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ANNIE BESANT 



IN THE OUTER COURT 



ABERDEEN UNIVERSITY PRESS. 



IN THE 
OUTER COURT 



BY 



ANNIE BESANT 



SECOND EDITION 



LONDON 

THEOSOPHICAL PUBLISHING SOCIETY 
26 CHARING CROSS, S.W. 

NEW YORK : 65 FIFTH AVENUE 

BENARES: THE THEOSOPHICAL PUBLISHING SOCIETY 

MADRAS : THEOSOPHIST OFFICE, ADYAR 

I8Q8 









JSP 



CONTENTS. 

PAGE 

PURIFICATION - 9 

THOUGHT CONTROL - 41 

THE BUILDING OF CHARACTER - 71 

SPIRITUAL ALCHEMY - - 103 

ON THE THRESHOLD - - 135 

The above are the verbatim reports of five Lectures given 
in the Blavatsky Lodge, London, at the Headquarters of the 
European Section of the Theosophical Society, during August, 
1895. 



PURIFICATION. 



LECTURE I. 



Purification* 

IF it were possible to place ourselves in thought at a 
centre in space from which we might see the course of 
evolution, from which we might study the history of 
our chain of worlds rather as they might be seen in 
imagination, in picture, than in the appearance that 
they present as physical, astral and mental, I think 
that thus looking outwards on these evolving groups, 
this evolving humanity, we might figure the whole in 
a picture. I see a great mountain standing in space, 
with a road that winds round the mountain, round and 
round until the summit is reached. And the turns on 
this road round the mountain are seven in number, 
and on each turn I see seven stations where pilgrims 
stay for a while, and within these stations they have 
to climb round and round.* As we trace the road 

* The pilgrimage of humanity during its present cycle of evolu 
tion consists in passing seven times round a chain of seven globes ; 
on each globe a stay is made of many millions of years, and of these 
stays there are forty-nine seven globes each dwelt on seven times. 

B 



10 IN THE OUTER COURT. 

upwards along this spiral track we see how it ends at 
the summit of the mountain that it leads to a mighty 
Temple, a Temple as of white marble, radiant, which 
stands there shining out against the ethereal blue. 
That Temple is the goal of the pilgrimage, and they 
who are in it have finished their course finished it so 
far as that mountain is concerned and remain there 
only for the help of those who still are climbing. If 
we look more closely at the Temple, if we try to see 
how that Temple is built, we shall see in the midst of 
it a Holy of Holies, and round about the centre are 
Courts, four in number, ringing the Holy of Holies as 
concentric circles, and these are all within the Temple ; 
a wall divides each Court from its neighbours, and to 
pass from Court to Court the wayfarer must go through 
a gateway, and there is but one in each encircling 
wall. So all who would reach the centre must pass 
through these four gateways, one by one. And outside 
the Temple there is yet another enclosure the Outer 
Court and that Court has in it many more than are 
seen within the Temple itself. Looking at the Temple 
and the Courts and the mountain road that winds 
below, we see this picture of human evolution, and the 
track along which the race is treading, and the Temple 
that is its goal. And along that road round the moun 
tain stands a vast mass of human beings, climbing 
indeed, but climbing so slowly, rising step after step ; 
sometimes it seems as though for every step for 
ward there is a step backward, and though the trend of 



PURIFICATION. II 

the whole mass is upwards it mounts so slowly that the 
pace is scarcely perceptible. And this seonian evolution 
of the race, climbing ever upwards, seems so slow and 
weary and painful that one wonders how the pilgrims 
have the heart to climb so long. And tracing it round 
and round the mountain millions of years pass in the 
tracing, and millions of years in following a pilgrim, 
and while he treads it for these millions of years an 
endless succession of lives seems to pass, all spent in 
climbing upwards we weary even in watching these 
vast multitudes who climb so slowly, who tread round 
after round as they mount this spiral pathway. 
Watching them we ask ourselves : Why is it that they 
climb so slowly ? How is it that these millions of men 
take so long a journey ? Why are they ever striving 
upwards to this Temple that stands at the top ? 

Looking at them, it seems that they travel so slowly 
because they see not their goal, and understand not 
the direction in which they are travelling. And as we 
watch one or another on the pathway, we see that they 
are always straying aside, attracted hither and thither, 
and with no purpose in their going; they walk not 
straight onwards as though intent on business, but 
wander hither and thither, like children running after a 
blossom here, and chasing a butterfly there. So that 
all the time seems to be wasted, and but little progress 
is made when the night falls upon them and the day s 
march is over. Looking at them, it does not seem as 
though even progress in intellect, slow as that also 



12 IN THE OUTER COURT. 

is, made the pace very much more rapid. When we 
look at those whose intellect is scarcely developed, 
they seem after each day of life to sink to sleep 
almost on the place they occupied the day before; 
and when we glance over those who are more highly 
evolved so far as intellect is concerned, they too are 
travelling very very slowly, and seem to make small 
progress in each day of life. And looking thus at them, 
our hearts grow weary with the climbing, and we 
wonder that they do not raise their eyes and under 
stand the direction in which their path is taking them. 
Now that Outer Court that some of the climbers 
in front are reaching, that Outer Court of the 
Temple, seems not only to be gained by the path 
that winds round and round the hill so often ; for 
as we look at it, we see that from many points in 
this spiral pathway the Outer Court may be reached, 
and that there are briefer ways that wind not round 
the hill but go straight up its side, paths that may be 
climbed if a traveller s heart be brave and if his limbs 
be strong. And trying to see how men find their way 
more swiftly than their fellows to the Outer Court, we 
seem to gather that the first step is taken off this 
long spiral road, the first step is taken straight in the 
direction of this Outer Court that men can reach from 
so many points in the long roadway, when some Soul 
who has been travelling round and round, for millen 
niums perhaps, recognises for the first time a purpose 
in the journey, and catches for a moment a gleam from 



PURIFICATION. 13 

the Temple on the summit. For that White Temple 
sends rays of light over the mountain side, and now 
and then a traveller raises his eyes from the flowers 
and the pebbles and the butterflies upon the path, and 
the gleam seems to catch his glance and he looks 
upward at the Temple, and for a moment he sees it ; 
and after that first momentary glimpse he is never 
again quite as he was before. For, though but for a 
moment, he has recognised a goal and an ending ; for a 
moment he has seen the summit towards which he is 
climbing, and the pathway, steep, but so much shorter, 
that leads directly up the hill-side beyond which the 
Temple gleams. And in that moment of recognising 
the goal that lies in front, in that moment of under 
standing, if it be but for an instant, that instead of 
climbing round and round full seven times and making 
so many little circles on the upward path for the 
path winds upon itself as well as round the hill, and 
each spiral round the mountain side has seven turns 
within itself and they too take long in the treading 
when the Soul has caught these glimpses of its goal and 
of the directer pathway that leads towards it, then it 
understands for that moment that the pathway has a 
name and that the name is " Service," and that those 
who enter on that shorter pathway must enter it 
through a gate on which " Service of Man " is shining 
in golden letters; it understands that before it can 
reach even the Outer Court of the Temple it must pass 
through that gateway and realise that life is meant for 



14 IN THE OUTER COURT. 

service and not for self-seeking, and that the only way 
to climb upwards more swiftly is to climb for the sake 
of those who are lagging, in order that from the Temple 
more effective help may be sent down to the climbers 
than otherwise would be possible. As I said, it is only 
the flash of a moment, only a glimpse that comes and 
that vanishes again ; for the eye has only been caught 
by one of these rays of light that come down from the 
mountain. And there are so many attractive objects 
scattered along this winding path that the Soul s 
glance is easily again drawn towards them ; but inas 
much as once it has seen the light, there is the 
possibility of seeing it again more easily, and when 
once the goal of achievement and the duty and power of 
service have had even this passing imaginative realisa 
tion in the Soul, then there remains a desire 
to tread that shorter pathway, and to find a way 
straight up the hill to the Outer Court of the Temple. 
After that first vision, gleams come from time to time, 
and on day after day of this long climbing the gleam 
returns to the Soul, and each glimpse perhaps is 
brighter than the last, and we see that these Souls who 
have just for a moment recognised that there is a goal 
and purpose in life, begin to climb with more steadfast 
ness than their fellows ; although they are still winding 
their way round the hill, we see that they begin to 
practise more steadily what we recognise as virtues, and 
that they give themselves more persistently to what we 
recognise as religion, which is trying to tell them how 



PURIFICATION. 15 

they may climb, and how the Temple may finally be 
won. So that these Souls who have caught a gleam of 
this- possible ending, and feel some drawing towards the 
path that leads thereunto, become marked out a little 
from their fellows by their diligence and heedfulness, 
and they go to the front of this endless multitude that 
is climbing along the road ; they travel more swiftly, 
because there is more purpose in their travelling, be 
cause they are taking a direction which they begin to 
understand, and they begin, though very imperfectly, 
to walk with a definite aim, and to try to live with 
a definite purpose. And although they scarcely yet 
recognise what that purpose in the end will be it 
is rather a dim intuition than a definite understanding 
of the way still they are no longer roaming aimlessly 
from side to side, sometimes a little upwards and some 
times a little downwards ; they are now climbing 
steadily up the winding pathway, and each day of life 
sees them climb a little faster, until they are distinctly 
ahead of the multitudes in spirituality of life, in the 
practice of virtue, and in the growing desire to be of 
service to their fellow-men. They are in this way 
travelling more swiftly towards the summit, though still 
on the winding road, and they are beginning to try to 
train themselves in definite ways ; they are beginning 
also to try to help their neighbours, that they too may 
climb with them, and as they are making their way a 
little more swiftly forward they are always reaching out 
helping hands to those around them, and trying to take 



l6 IN THE OUTER COURT. 

them with them upwards more swiftly along the path. 
And presently, with those they are thus loving and 
serving, they are met by a form that is beautiful, though 
at first somewhat stern in aspect, which speaks to them 
and tells them something of a shorter way ; we know 
that the form which comes to meet them is Knowledge, 
and that Knowledge is beginning to whisper to them 
something of the conditions of a swifter progress ; the 
Religion that has been helping them in the practice of 
virtue is, as it were, the sister of this Knowledge, and 
the Service of Man is sister to it also, and the three 
together begin to take charge of the Soul, until at last a 
brighter dawning comes, and a fuller recognition, and 
you hear this Soul beginning to make definite to itself 
the purpose of its climbing, and not only to dream of a 
future, but to make that dream more definite in its 
purpose, and you find it recognising service as the law 
of life. Now, with deliberate intention, a promise to 
help in the progress of the race breathes softly forth 
from the lips of the Soul ; and that is the first vow the 
Soul makes, to give itself sometime to the service of the 
race a vow not yet of full purpose, but still with the 
promise of purpose hidden within it. It has been 
written in a Scripture that one of the great Ones who 
trod the shorter road, one of the great Ones who climbed 
the steeper path, and Who climbed it so swiftly that He 
left behind Him all His race and stood alone in the 
forefront, the firstfruits, the promise of humanity ; it is 
said of Him, Who in later ages was known as the 



PURIFICATION. 17 

Buddha, that " He perfected His vow, Kalpa after 
Kalpa"; for the achievement that was to crown His 
life had to begin with the promise of service, and it is 
that vow of the Soul which links it to the great Ones 
that have gone before, that makes as it were the link 
that draws it to the probationary path, the path that 
leads it into and across the Outer Court, up to the very 
gateway of the Temple itself. At last, after many lives 
of striving, many lives of working, growing purer and 
nobler and wiser, life after life, the Soul makes a distinct 
and clear speaking forth of a will that now has grown 
strong ; and when that will announces itself as a clear and 
definite purpose, no longer the whisper that aspires, but 
the word that commands, then that resolute will strikes 
at the gateway which leads to the Outer Court of the 
Temple, and strikes with a knocking which none may 
deny for it has in it the strength of the Soul that is 
determined to achieve, and that has learned enough to 
understand the vastness of the task that it undertakes. 
For that Soul that now is standing at the outer gateway 
of this Court, knows what it is striving to accomplish, 
realises the vastness of the difficulty that lies in front. 
For it means nothing less than this, that it is going to 
come out of its race that race which is to be climbing 
round and round and round for endless millenniums, 
still passing from globe to globe, round that which we 
know as the chain, passing round and round that chain 
in weariful succession ; this brave Soul that now is 
knocking at the outer gateway means to climb that 



l8 IN THE OUTER COURT. 

same mountain in but a few human lives, means to take 
step by step, breasting the hill at its steepest, the path 
that will lead it right upwards into the very Holy of 
Holies ; and it means to do within a space of time that 
is to be counted by but a few lives, that which the race 
will take myriads of lives to accomplish a task so 
mighty that the brain might almost reel at its difficulty ; 
a task so great that of the Soul that undertakes it one 
would almost say that it had begun to realise its own 
divinity, and the omnipotence which lies enshrined 
within itself. For to do in a few lives from this point 
of the cycle that the race has reached, what the race as 
a whole is going to do, not only in the races that lie in 
front, but in the rounds that also lie in the future to do 
that is surely a task worthy of a God, and the accom 
plishment means that the divine power is perfecting 
itself within the human form. 

So the Soul knocks at the gateway, and the door 
swings open to let it through, and it passes into the 
Outer Court. Through that Court it has to go, travers 
ing it step by step until it reaches the first of the 
gateways that lead into the Temple itself the first 
of those four gateways, every one of which is one of the 
great Initiations, beyond the first of which no Soul may 
tread that has not embraced the Eternal for evermore, 
and that has not given up its interest in the mere transi 
tory things that lie around. For when once a Soul has 
passed through the gateway of the Temple, it goeth out 
no more ; once it passes through that gateway into 



PURIFICATION. 19 

one of the inner Courts that lie beyond it and that lead 
to the Holy of Holies, it goes out never again. It has 
chosen its lot for all the millenniums to come ; it is in the 
place which none leaves when once he has entered it. 
Within the Temple itself the first great Initiation lies. 
But the Soul whose progress we are tracing is as yet 
only going to prepare itself in this Outer Court of the 
Temple, in order that in lives to come it may be able to 
ascend the seven steps to the first gateway, and await 
permission to pass over the threshold into the Temple 
itself. What then shall be its work in the Outer 
Court ? How shall it lead its lives therein, in order 
that it may become worthy to knock at the Temple 
gate ? That is the subject that lies in front of us the 
subject I am going to try to put before you, if I may 
speak but to one or two to whom the speaking may 
appeal. For well I know, brothers and sisters mine, 
in depicting this Outer Court, that I may say much 
that may seem unattractive, much that may seem even 
repellent. Hard enough is it to find the way to the 
Outer Court ; difficult enough is it to practise religion 
and all the virtues which make the human Soul fit even 
to knock at the gateway of this outer stage, this Outer 
Court around the Temple, and they who enter into that 
Court have made great progress in their past ; it may 
be, it will be, that to some the life that is led therein 
may scarce seem attractive to some who have not yet 
definitely recognised the aim and the end of life. For, 
mind you, none are in the Outer Court save those who 



2O IN THE OUTER COURT. 

have definitely vowed themselves to service, those who 
have given everything, and who have asked for nothing in 
return save the privilege of serving, who have definitely 
recognised the transitory nature of earthly things, who 
have definitely embraced the task which they desire to 
achieve, who have turned their backs on the flowery 
paths which go round the mountain, and are resolutely 
determined to climb straight upwards, no matter what 
the cost, no matter what the strain as day after day of 
life swiftly succeed each other. There is to be struggle, 
and much of struggle, in this Outer Court, for much has 
to be done therein in brief space of time. 

The divisions of this work that I have made are 
arbitrary. They are not steps, as it were, across the 
Court, for each of these divisions has to be taken at one 
and the same time and is always being worked at ; it is 
a simultaneous training, and is not divided into stages 
as I have had to divide it for clearness of explanation. I 
have called these divisions " Purification," and " Thought 
Control," and the " Building of Character," and 
" Spiritual Alchemy," and " On the Threshold ". These 
divisions do not mean that each is to be taken separately, 
because all these things have to be done at one and the 
same time, and the Soul that is spending its lives in the 
Outer Court is busy with all this work in all the lives 
that it spends there ; it is these tasks that it must 
partially, at least, have learned to accomplish, ere it 
dare stand at the Temple gate itself. And if I take 
them now one by one, it is in order that we may under- 



PURIFICATION. 21 

stand them the better ; but we must also understand 
throughout my sketching of these steps, that it is not 
perfect accomplishment of any one of them that the 
Soul must have achieved ere it may reach the gateway 
of the first Initiation ; but only that it must have partially 
accomplished, only that it must be striving with some 
thing of success, only that it must understand its work 
and be doing it with diligence ; when the work is 
perfectly accomplished, it will be in the Holy of Holies 
itself. Purification then is to be part of its work, self- 
purification, the purification of the lower nature, until 
every part of it vibrates perfectly in harmony with the 
higher, until everything is pure that belongs to the 
temporary part of man, to that which we call the 
personality, that which has not in it the permanent 
individual, but is only the assemblage of qualities and 
characteristics which that individual gathers round it in 
the course of each of its many lives all the outer quali 
ties and attributes round the Soul, all these garments in 
which it clothes itself, and which it carries with it often 
life after life, all that which it takes up as it comes back 
to incarnation, all that which it builds during incarna 
tion, all that which the permanent individuality gathers 
round itself during earth-life and out of which it extracts 
the essence in order to transfuse it into its own growing 
and eternal Self. A phrase that very well symbolises 
the position of the Soul at this moment, when it has de 
liberately entered this Outer Court and sees the work 
stretching in front of it, a phrase that very well de- 



22 IN THE OUTER COURT. 

scribes its attitude has been used lately by Mr. Sinnett. 
It is the phrase of " allegiance to the Higher Self," a 
useful expression, if it be understood. It means the 
deliberate decision that all that is temporary and that 
belongs to the lower personality shall be cast aside ; 
that each life that has to be lived in this lower world 
shall be devoted to the single purpose of gathering 
together material which is useful, which then shall be 
handed on to the Higher One who lives and grows out 
of that which the lower gathers ; that the lower self- 
realising that it is essentially one with the greater that 
is above it, that its only work in the world is to come 
here as the temporary active agency which gathers 
together that of which its permanent Self has need 
determines that the whole of its life down here shall be 
spent in that service, and that the life s purpose is merely 
the gathering of material which then shall be taken back 
to the Higher, who is really the essence of itself, and 
who shall thus be enabled to build up the ever-growing 
individuality which is higher than the personality of a 
life. The "allegiance to the Higher Self" means the 
recognition of this service by the lower, the living of the 
lower no longer for itself but for the purpose of serving 
that which endures ; so that all the life in the Outer 
Court is to be this life of definite allegiance to the 
Higher, and all the work that is done in the Outer 
Court is to be work that is done for the sake of that 
greater One, who is now realised as the true Self that is 
to endure throughout the ages, and that is to be built 



PURIFICATION. 23 

ever into fuller and fuller life by this deliberate, loyal 
service of the messenger that it sends into the outer 
world. 

In this work that which is sometimes spoken of 
in the great Scriptures of the world as the preliminary 
step for the successful searching after the Soul, is one 
that I am imagining as now lying behind the Soul. 
You may remember to have read in one of the greatest 
of the Upanishads, that if a man would find the Soul 
the first thing to do is to " cease from evil ways " ; but 
that I am presuming the Soul has done ere yet it has 
entered into the Outer Court. For those who enter 
it are no longer subject to the commonest tempta 
tions of earth-life ; they have grown beyond those, 
and when they come into the incarnation which 
is to see them within the Outer Court, they will at 
least have turned from evil ways and will have ceased 
from walking therein with pleasure. If ever they are 
found in such ways at all it will be by a sudden slip imme 
diately retrieved, and they will have been born into the 
world with a conscience which refuses to let them go 
wrong when the right is seen before it. And though 
the conscience might have sometimes blundered in its 
choice though the conscience (not yet perfect in its 
experience) might sometimes have chosen wrongly ere 
entering within this Outer Court, and even after having 
entered, still it would be keenly desirous to choose 
rightly. The lower self would not deliberately go 
against this voice, for any one who deliberately goes 



24 IN THE OUTER COURT. 

against the voice of conscience has not entered into 
this Outer Court at all, nor is ready to enter it ; the 
Souls that have entered therein have at least chosen to 
strive after the right, and they would fain obey this 
voice that bids them choose it, and not deliberately 
disobey ; they would come into this world with that 
much of their climbing behind them, and with a 
deliberate will to do the highest that they see. They 
now will have to deal with subtler temptations, those in 
the Outer Court ; not with the grosser temptations of 
the outside world, but with the subtler and keener 
temptations that come to the Soul when it has to live 
so swiftly through its lives, when it has to climb so 
rapidly up the mountain side. For indeed it has no 
time to waste in paltering with temptations, in slowly 
building virtue ; it must climb onwards and upwards 
ever, now it has once come within the limits of even 
the Outer Court of the Temple. And it will find intel 
lectual difficulties all round it and intellectual tempta 
tions temptations to intellectual ambition, temptations 
to intellectual pride, temptations to be proud of that 
which it has gathered, and to hold firmly for its own 
sake to that which it has achieved. And not only will 
it feel this strong grip of ambition, this grasping of 
the nature of pride,- that would keep for itself and 
would build up a wall between itself and those who 
are below it, but it will also have a desire for know 
ledge, a desire for knowledge for itself, a desire for 
knowledge that it may gain and hold rather as against 



PURIFICATION. 25 

the world than for it. And this temptation veils itself 
as love of knowledge for its own sake, and love of 
truth for its own sake, and oftentimes the Soul finds, 
as its eyesight grows keener and clearer, that this 
supposed aspiring love is often only the desire to be 
separated from its fellows, to have what they do not 
share and to enjoy what it does not give to them. 
This separateness is one of the great dangers of the 
growing Soul, the pride in separateness and the desire 
to be separated the desire to grow and to learn and to 
achieve in order that it may possess ; this is one of the 
temptations that will touch it even when it has passed 
through the gateway of the Outer Court. For the 
Soul will see knowledge within its grasp, and will desire 
to hold it ; will see power within its grasp, and will 
desire to have it ; desire, not only for the sake of ser 
vice, but also partly because these make itself the 
greater, and it is inclined to build this wall about itself 
so that it may keep for self that which it has achieved ; 
presently it begins to understand that if it would ever 
traverse the Outer Court and reach the gateway that is 
shining ahead of it, it must get rid of all this intellectual 
ambition, and all this intellectual pride, and all this 
desire for knowledge which it will hold for itself, and 
everything that makes it separate from its brother 
Souls ; then it will begin to purify its intellectual nature, 
it will begin to scrutinise the motives *which impel it 
to effort and the motives which move it to action, and 

it will begin carefully to look at itself in the light 

c 



26 IN THE OUTER COURT. 

that shines from the Temple, and that is ever coming 
through the Temple windows and illuminating this 
Outer Court with rays of spiritual Life ; light in which 
every shadow seems to be darker, and the very things 
that look bright in the lower world are seen after all to 
be shadows and not to be rays of light at all. Then 
the Soul will realise that this desire-nature which it has 
brought with it, and which mixes itself with the intel 
lectual, that this desire-nature has to be purified from 
every touch of the personal self; it will deliberately 
begin this work of purification, it will deliberately and 
consciously and steadfastly set itself to work to purge 
out of itself everything which strives to take for the 
personality, and everything which makes it in any 
sense separate from those that are below it as well as 
from Those that are above. For this the Soul learns 
and it is one of the lessons of the Outer Court 
that there is only one way which these doors swing 
open, the doors that shut it out of the Temple, and that 
is by the breaking down of the walls that separate it 
from its fellows that are below. Then the walls that 
separate it from those that are in front disappear, 
absorbed as it were by their own action ; for that gate 
that has to be passed through is a gate that will only 
open to him who desires passage, as he breaks down 
the walls of his own nature and is willing to share with 
all that which he achieves. 

Thus he begins this work of purifying the desire- 
nature, and he takes this lower self in hand to purge 



PURIFICATION. 27 

out of it everything which is personal. How shall he 
purify himself ? He does not want to destroy; for that 
which he has gathered together is experience, and 
experience has been built into faculty and transmuted 
into power, and he now needs all these powers that he 
has been gathering during the climb that lies below 
him, and it will not do to destroy all that he has 
gathered ; he wants to take these powers on with him, 
but to take them purified instead of foul. How then 
shall he purify them ? It would be so much easier to 
destroy ; it would need so much less patience to kill 
some of these qualities that he has ; he feels as if he 
could strike at them and slay them, and so be rid of 
them. But it is not thus that he can enter into the 
Temple ; for he must take there as his sacrifice that 
has to be offered on the very threshold of the Temple, 
everything that he has gathered in his past, that he has 
turned into power and faculty ; he must not go in 
thither empty-handed, he must take with him all that he 
has gathered in his lower life. So that he dares not 
destroy; he must perform the harder work of purifica 
tion ; he must keep the essence of all the qualities, while 
he strikes away from them everything that is personal. 
All the lessons he has learnt of virtue and of vice, all 
these are the experiences that in the pilgrimage behind 
him he has gathered ; he must take the essence of every 
quality with him, for these are the results of all his 
climbing; but he must take them as pure gold to the 
altar, and no dross must be mingled with the gold. 



28 IN THE OUTER COURT. 

Let us take one or two of these qualities in order to 
see clearly what purification means ; for if we understand 
it as to one or two qualities, then at our leisure we can 
work it out for the rest, and the lesson is all-important 
as to how the purification is to be worked. 

Let me take first a mighty force which is in every 
human being, which he develops in the low stages of 
his growth, which he carries on with him as he evolves, 
and which it is now his work to purify. Let us take the 
quality that in its lowest stage we know as anger, as 
wrath, as that tremendous power that the man develops, 
by which he fights his way through the world, by which 
he struggles, and by which he oftentimes overcomes all 
opposition : that tremendous energy of the Soul rushing 
out through the lower nature and breaking a man s way 
for him through difficulties in the earlier stages of his 
growth ere yet he has learned to guide and to control it ; 
an undisciplined energy, destructive because it is un 
disciplined ; a tremendous force, valuable because it is 
force, although destructive in its workings as we see it 
in the lower world. The man ere yet he has entered 
into the Outer Court has somewhat changed that energy 
of the Soul ; he has changed it into a. virtue, a very real 
virtue, and he has had this virtue long as his possession 
in the outside world ; then it went by the names (when 
it had reached the stage of virtue) of noble indignation, 
of passion against injustice, of hatred of all that was 
wrong, and that was base, and that was vile, and that 
was cruel, and it did good service in the outer world 



PURIFICATION. 29 

under these many forms of destructive energy. For this 
man, ere yet he came into the Outer Court, had been 
working for the world, and had been practising this 
virtue ; and when he saw the cruelty that was done 
upon the weak his passion broke forth against it, and 
when an injustice was wrought by a tyrant then he rose 
up against it in indignation ; he had learned, as he 
practised this virtue, to purify it from much of the dross ; 
for the anger that he had in his earlier lives was anger 
for himself he was wrathful when he was injured, he 
struck back when some one struck at him ; but he had 
long ago conquered that mere brute wrath in the lower 
nature which guards itself by destructive energy against 
a wrong, and pays back evil with evil and hate with 
hate. Before he entered the Outer Court he had 
passed beyond that earlier stage, and had learned to 
some extent to transform that energy of anger in him ; 
he had purified it to a great extent from the personal 
element, and he had learned to be angry less because he 
himself was injured, than because some one else was 
wronged ; he had learned to be indignant less because he 
suffered, than because some one else was put to pain ; 
and when he saw some cruel creature trampling on a 
helpless one, he sprang forward to rescue that helpless 
creature and struck at the wrong-doer and cast him to 
one side ; in that way he had used the higher anger to 
conquer the lower, in that way he had used the nobler 
passion to slay the more animal passion of his lower life, 
and he had learned in these lives that now lie far behind 



30 IN THE OUTER COURT. 

him, to get rid so far of the grosser qualities of the 
passion ; he had learned to be no longer angry for 
himself, but angry only for those whom he desired to 
help. For he was a man, remember, who had long 
recognised service as duty, and one of his ways of service 
was by striking down oppressors and by casting aside 
those who were inflicting suffering; this anger of his 
blazed up hotly against all forms of wrong, and he 
worked for the weaker, and perchance did hero s work 
in the world. But within that calmer atmosphere of the 
Court of the Temple, illuminated by the rays of absolute 
compassion shining forth from the Holy of Holies, there 
is no place for anger of any sort, even though the anger 
be purged from personal antagonism. For the aspirant 
has now to learn that those who do the wrong are also 
his brothers, and that they suffer more in their wrong 
doing than do their fellow-men by the injury that 
they may inflict ; he has to learn that this noble in 
dignation of his, and this passion of his against the 
wrong, and this fire that blazed forth to consume a 
tyranny that touched not himself, that that is not the 
characteristic of the Soul that is striving onwards 
towards the Divine; for the Divine Life loves all the 
children that It sends into the world, no matter what 
may be their position, nor how low the grade of their 
evolution. For the Love of the Divine that emanated 
all has nothing outside Itself. The Life that is Divine 
is the core of everything that exists, and there is God 
present in the heart of the evil-doer as well as in 



PURIFICATION. 31 

the heart of the saint. Within the Outer Court 
the Divine must be recognised, no matter how thick 
are the veils that hide it, for there the eyes of the 
Spirit are to be opened, and there is to be no veil be 
tween it and the Self of other men ; therefore this noble 
indignation is to be purified until it is purged of every 
thing that is of anger, and is changed into an energy 
that leaves nothing outside its helpful range ; until this 
great energy of the Soul becomes an energy that is ab 
solutely pure, that goes out to help the tyrant as well as 
the slave, and that embraces within its limit the one 
who is trampling as well as the one who is trampled ; 
for the Saviours of men choose not whom They will 
serve Their service is a service that knows no limita 
tions, and They that are the servants of all hate none 
within the Universe. That which once was anger has 
to become, by purification, protection for the weak, 
impersonal opposition to strong evil-doing, perfect jus 
tice to all. 

And so again as he does with anger he must do with 
love, with love that began showing itself forth in him in 
its lowest and poorest form as the Soul was beginning 
to grow, that showed itself forth, perhaps, in forms that 
were foul and in forms that were vile, that only knew 
the goings outward to another, and that in its self- 
gratification troubled not much as to what happened 
even to that which it loved ; as the Soul has been grow 
ing upwards, love has changed its character, has become 
nobler, less selfish, less personal, until it has attached 



32 IN THE OUTER COURT. 

itself to the higher elements in the beloved instead of to 
the outer casing, and the love that was sensual has be 
come moralised and purified. It must be made still 
purer when the candidate has come within the Outer 
Court of the Temple ; he must carry in with him love, 
but it is love that must have begun to lose its exclusive- 
ness ; it is love which must keep its fire ever burning 
more warmly, but the warmth must spread out further 
and further and be purified from everything of lower 
nature ; and that means that the love shall be a love 
that in going out to others shall always seek to serve 
them rather than to serve itself, shall always seek how 
much it may give to them rather than how much it may 
take from them, and so a love that will be becoming 
gradually Divine in its essence, going out according to 
the measure of the need rather than according to the 
richness of the return. 

As the Soul is thus striving after purification, it will 
have certain tests that it will apply to all this process 
through which it is passing itself, and when it is at 
work using its energy in order to accomplish some 
service to man it will bring to that service the 
Ithuriel spear of the absence of personality, and 
will see what starts up in answer to the touch of 
the spear. If it find that when it is doing service, 
when its energy is going out to achieve something that 
it realises as good, if in testing that action and its motive 
it find that the " I " is subtly mingled with the energy; 
if it find that it looks less for the success of the working 



PURIFICATION. 33 

than for the success of the operator ; if it find that when it 
fails in its own working but sees that work accomplished 
by another, there is something of disappointment ming 
ling in the cup of its delight at seeing the work achieved ; 
then it knows that the personality is still lingering 
in it, that if it were what it ought to be, it would 
care only for the triumph of the service, and not for 
having itself contributed to the triumph. And if it 
find that in personal failure there is still a sting of dis 
appointment ; if it find that from the failure of its own 
outgoing energy there comes back to it something of 
depression, something of discouragement, something 
which clouds for a moment its peace and its serenity, 
then it realises that in that sting and in that cloud 
there is still a part of the personality that needs to be 
destroyed, and it sets to work to get rid also of that 
weakness, and to clear away that cloud from the eyes 
of the Soul. And if it find, when it is measuring and 
testing the nature of its love, that there is there also a 
little chill, a little feeling of disappointment, when that 
which it has loved remains indifferent to its giving, 
though it has served nobly and loved greatly ; if it find 
that the outward flowing of its love is inclined to 
shrink backward and to check its course, because those 
to whom it gives the love answer not back with love in 
return ; then, again, this Soul that is so stern to itself 
whilst so compassionate to all other Souls knows 
that in this also there is a subtle lingering of the per 
sonality, and that it is still working for something for 



34 IN THE OUTER COURT. 

itself, and is not finding its highest joy in the mere glory 
of the giving. Then, again, it sets to work, this Soul 
that is in the Outer Court of the Temple, to purify away 
that lingering part of the personality, until the love 
flows out, never asking whether aught comes back to it, 
never waiting to see if answer is there ; for it knows in 
truth that the need for love is greatest where answer of 
love there is none, and it knows that those Souls have 
the greatest need to receive who themselves at present 
give nothing to the love that helps. 

In this way the Soul deliberately labours for growth ; 
deliberately it works at itself, purifying always the 
lower nature with unceasing effort and with untiring 
demand ; for ever it is comparing itself not with those 
who are below it but with Those who are above it, 
ever it is raising its eyes towards Those who have 
achieved, and not looking downwards towards those 
who are still only climbing upwards towards the Outer 
Court. And it can never for a moment rest, it can 
never be content, until it sees itself ever coming nearer 
to its goal, until there is less opposition within itself to 
the passing through it of the light of the Holy Ones 
who have become Divine. 

Within this Outer Court the temptations of men are 
by their virtues, not by their vices ; subtle temptations 
assail their nature that appear like angels of light ; and 
ever the temptation comes to these Souls that are pass 
ing onwards through that which is greatest in them, by 
that which is noblest in them ; it is their virtues which 



PURIFICATION. 35 

are taken, and, using the advantage of their lack of 
knowledge, these are turned into temptations ; for 
they have grown beyond the point where vice could 
touch or tempt them, and it is only by using the mask 
of virtue that illusion may avail to lead them astray. 
That is why they learn to be so hard upon themselves, 
that is why they are so ceaseless in the demands that 
they make upon themselves ; they know full well by 
their own slipping, and by the slipping of their com 
rades, that those virtues that in the lower world are 
difficult of achievement are the very things that become 
easy to those within the Outer Court, and that these 
are then, as it were, stolen by the enemy, in order that 
he may turn them into temptations by which also they 
may be made to falter on the Path. Therefore it is that 
they learn that the only safety for them is in living 
within the light of the Higher Self ; therefore it is that 
they realise that they dare not stand at the Gate of the 
Temple until that Light shines out radiantly within 
them, and therefore they are ever striving to make them 
selves absolutely translucent. For how shall they dare 
to pass into a Light to which everything that is light 
here is but as shadow ; how shall they dare to pass into 
a Light at which no impure eyes can look for the 
dazzling quality of its rays, making all that we call 
virtue seem imperfect of achievement, and all that we 
call beauty but as ugliness and as flatness ; how shall 
they dare to go within the Temple, where the Eyes of 
the Master shall rest upon them, and they shall stand, 



36 IN THE OUTER COURT. 

the Soul naked, in His presence ; how shall they dare 
to stand there, if within the heart there be still one 
stain of imperfection, and if when He looks into the 
heart there be found there one soil to offend the purity 
of His gaze ? 

Therefore is it that in this Outer Court things that 
are painful in the world outside become as joy, and the 
suffering that purifies is the most welcome of friends ; 
therefore is it that the pattern of all Yogis, He Who 
is said to be Himself the Great Yogi, the Master 
and the Patron of all ; therefore is it that He stands 
ever in the burning-ground, and that flames play ever 
round His presence and consume everything that they 
touch. For in the hearts of those who are in the Outer 
Court there are still hidden places into which the light 
has not yet pierced, and the final purification ere they 
enter into the Temple comes from these living flames 
of the Lord Himself, and they burn up all that lurks 
unseen in the hidden chambers of the heart of him who 
is to be a disciple. He has given himself to his Lord 
and he keeps nothing back ; in that mighty burning- 
ground, which stands before the gateway of the Temple, 
is the blazing fire through which all must pass ere yet 
the Temple Gate can open for them : it is beyond the 
fire and in it that the figure of the Great Yogi is seen, 
from Whom those flames come forth, taking their 
purifying power from the glory of His Feet. It is from 
Him, the Great Guru, that comes this final purification 
of the disciple, and then he enters within the gateway 



PURIFICATION. 37 

that shuts him out for ever from all the interests of 
the lower world, save that of service ; which separates 
him from all human desires save as he works for the 
redemption of Humanity ; there remains nothing on 
earth which is able to attract him, because he has seen 
the Face of his Lord and before that all other lights 
grow dim. 



THOUGHT CONTROL. 



LECTURE II. 



Control 



PERHAPS in the subject or rather the section of the 
subject that I have to deal with to-night there will be 
almost more of difference than in any other part of it, 
between the view that would be taken, say by a thought 
ful well-balanced virtuous man in the world and the 
view which is taken by the Occultist. I shall want, as 
it were, to lead you step by step from the beginning, and 
to show you how this change of standpoint occurs ; for 
it is perhaps especially in regard to the mind, the posi 
tion that the mind holds towards the man, the place 
that it has in his developing nature, the functions that 
it performs and the way in which it performs them it 
is on these matters that so much of difference will arise 
according to the position of the thinker, according to 
the view that he takes of the world at large and of the 
part which he there is called upon to play. Let us for 
a moment, in order to realise just where we are in this 
matter, let us for a moment try to think how a good 
and just and intellectual man that is a man who is 

D 



4-2 IN THE OUTER COURT. 

distinctly not careless nor frivolous nor worldly in the 
ordinary sense of the terms let us consider how such a 
person, sober in his judgment and balanced in his think 
ing, would regard this question of mental self-control. 
A good man, a man who has deliberately set before 
himself an ideal of virtue which he strives to realise, a 
view of duty which he endeavours to discharge, such a 
man in the course of the forming of this ideal and the 
marking out of this line of duty, will recognise that what 
we call the lower nature is a thing to be mastered, to be 
controlled. On that no question will arise at all. The 
passions and the appetites of the body, the lower 
emotions which hurry people away without reflection 
and without thought, all that side of the man s nature 
which is played upon from without so that he acts 
without consideration, as it would be said, without 
reflection and without thought our virtuous man will 
most certainly say that this is to be dominated and to 
be kept under control. He will speak of that as the 
lower nature, and he will seek to reduce it to obedience 
to the higher. If we examine carefully the position of 
such a man, we shall find that what we mean in ordinary 
parlance by a self-controlled man is a man who exercises 
this mental control over the lower nature, so that 
the mind controls the desires ; when we say " self- 
controlled " it is the man that is thought of as the 
self who is controlling. More than that ; if we look at 
him a little more closely we shall see that what we call 
the strong will, what we call the formed character, a 



THOUGHT CONTROL. 



43 



character which acts along certain definite lines of 
conduct, a will which, under very difficult circumstances, 
is still able to guide the nature of which it forms a part 
along a clear and definite line, we shall find that we 
mean by such a person that he is one in whom the mind 
has been largely developed, so that when he comes to 
act and to decide upon an action he is not determined 
in his action by the external circumstances, he is not 
determined in his action by the various attractions that 
may surround him outside, he is not determined in his 
action by the answer of the animal nature to those 
attractions ; he is determined, we shall find, by a mass 
of experiences recorded in what is called his memory, 
remembrance of past occurrences, comparison of the 
results which flowed from these occurrences ; the mind 
has worked upon all of these, has, as it were, arranged 
them and compared them the one with the other, and 
has drawn from them a definite result by an intellectual 
and logical effort. This result remains in the mind as 
a rule of conduct, and when the man is under circum 
stances that are disturbing, circumstances that would 
overcome what is called a weak will, circumstances that 
would perhaps lead astray just an average person, this 
stronger and more developed mind having laid down 
a rule of conduct at which it has arrived in a moment 
of calm, in moments when the desire-nature is not 
actively at work, in moments when it is not surrounded 
by temptations this mind guides its conduct by this 
rule of conduct which has thus been ascertained and 



44 IN THE OUTER COURT. 

laid down, and does not permit itself to be turned out of 
its course by the attractions or by the impulses of the 
moment. In dealing with such a person you can often 
forecast what he will do ; you know the principles upon 
which his conduct is based ; you know the lines of 
thought which dominate his mind ; and you feel pretty 
sure looking at this character, which is definite and 
formed and strong you feel pretty sure that no matter 
what may be the outside temptations, that man will 
fulfil in the moment of strife the ideal which he con 
ceived in the moments of calm and of reflection. And 
in speaking of a self-controlled man this is what we 
generally mean ; he is a man who has reached this stage 
of development, which is by no means a low stage you 
will observe, in which he has deliberately set himself to 
work to conquer and to rein in and to manage this lower 
nature, so that when it is most stimulated into action 
from without, the Soul shall be able to hold its own 
against the inrushing of temptation, and the man shall 
act on a noble standard, no matter what may be the 
temptations that surround him to act basely, or in 
accordance with the temptings of the lower nature. 

So far then we have taken what may well be called a 
virtuous man, this man of high character, of clear 
thought, of sound judgment, who is by no means 
driven hither and thither by circumstances, nor by 
impulses, as is the normal unregulated or ill-regulated 
nature. But there is another stage to which this man 
may come. He may come into contact with a great 



THOUGHT CONTROL. 45 

philosophy of life which explains to him something 
more of the workings of the mind ; he may come, for 
instance, into contact with the great Theosophical 
teachings, whether as expounded in ancient or modern 
books, whether he gains them from India, from Egypt, 
from Greece, or from modern Europe. And in that 
philosophy he may learn a new view of the Universe, 
and it may largely modify his own position. 

Suppose that such a man should come into the Theo 
sophical Society and should accept its main teachings, 
he will then begin to realise, far more than he did before 
he studied things from a Theosophical standpoint, the 
enormous influence of his thoughts. He will begin to 
understand that when his mind is working, it is exer 
cising that creative power which will be so familiar 
probably to most of you ; that the mind is actually 
making definite existences or entities, that in this crea 
tive action of the mind it is constantly sending out into 
the world around active entities that work for good or 
for evil, and that work often upon the minds and upon 
the lives of people with whom the creator of these 
entities does not come into personal contact. He will 
begin to understand that it is by no means necessary in 
this affecting of the minds of others that he should put 
his thought either into spoken or into written words. 
Nor is it necessary that his thought should show itself 
in action, so that his example may become potent for 
good or for evil. He realises that he may be an 
exceedingly obscure person as the world counts obscu- 



46 IN THE OUTER COURT. 

rity ; that he may be quite out of sight of the public ; 
that he may only influence an exceedingly small circle 
of his friends and relatives who come into personal 
contact with himself; but he will see that although he 
does not come into contact with people personally, 
although he does not reach them by written or 
spoken words, he has a power which transcends either 
the force of example or the forces of speech or of 
tongue, and that sitting alone and isolated from men, 
so far as the physical world is concerned, he may be 
exercising a force potent for good or for evil ; he may 
be purifying or fouling the minds of his generation ; he 
may be contributing to, helping, or hindering the pro 
gress of the world ; he may be raising his race a little 
higher or depressing it a little lower ; and quite apart 
from everything that ordinary people recognise as the 
force of precept or of example, he may be influencing 
the mind of his time by these subtle energies of 
thought, by these active forms that go into the world 
of men, that work the more forcibly in that they are 
invisible, and exercise the wider influence just because 
they are so subtle that they are unrecognised by the 
masses whom they affect. 

In this way, as he grows in his knowledge, thought 
will for him take on a new complexion, and he will 
realise how mighty is the responsibility of thought, 
that is, how great is the responsibility which is upon 
his own shoulders, simply as exercising these faculties 
of the mind. He will realise that his responsibility 



THOUGHT CONTROL. 47 

extends much farther than he can see ; that he is 
responsible in a very real way often for the crimes that 
happen in the society to which he belongs, as well as 
for the deeds of heroism that may also happen in that 
society. He will grasp that great principle that it by 
no means follows that the man who does an act is 
wholly and solely responsible for the act which he per 
forms ; but that every act is a coming into manifesta 
tion, a veritable incarnation, of ideas, and that every 
one who takes part in the generation of the ideas takes 
part in the responsibility for the action. Understanding 
that, and taking this wider view of life, he would begin 
to be very careful about his thoughts, he would begin 
to realise that he must control his thoughts, and this 
goes beyond the view which was taken by our man of 
the world ; further, as he understands that he must 
control his thoughts and is responsible for his thoughts, 
as he begins to realise that not only is he responsible 
for these thoughts, and therefore must have some 
choice as to the kind of thoughts that he generates, he 
also finds if he studies a little further that the kind of 
thoughts that he attracts to himself from the outer 
world will be very largely determined by the nature of 
the thoughts that he himself generates. So that he is 
not only a magnet sending out lines of thought-force 
over the area of his magnetic field, but he is also a 
magnet attracting towards himself the substances which 
answer to the magnetic force that he sends out ; 
whether then his mind be full of good thoughts or of 



48 IN THE OUTER COURT. 

base thoughts will very largely depend upon the lines 
along which his own mental force is exercised, and he 
will begin to understand that in generating a good 
thought he is not only discharging his supreme duty to 
his fellows, but that as ever happens when man is in 
harmony with the Divine Law he himself is gaining 
by that which he gives ; in each case in which he gives 
to the world a noble thought, he has set up in himself 
an attractive centre to which other noble thoughts will 
come of their own accord, drawn, as it were, by mag 
netic affinity, so that his own mind will be helped and 
strengthened by these thoughts that flow into it from 
without. He recognises also with pain and shame that 
when he sends out into the world a foul thought he has 
made in his own consciousness a similar centre, which 
will attract the baser thoughts in the atmosphere, and 
so increase his own tendencies towards evil as the 
others increase his tendencies towards good. And as 
he learns to understand this mental brotherhood which 
binds all men together, you will realise that he will 
change his mental attitude, that he will feel this 
responsibility of giving out and of taking in, that he 
will recognise these ties that stretch out in every 
direction from him and also stretch out from every 
direction towards him, that he in his daily life will 
begin to deal more with thought than he will with 
action, and to understand that in that region of the 
invisible there are generated all the forces which come 
down into the psychic and the physical life. 



THOUGHT CONTROL. 49 

But there is a step further when he comes within the 
Outer Court. He is now a candidate as you will 
remember from what we said last week he is now a 
candidate to enter on that steeper and shorter Path 
leading upwards, nay, he is on the probationary stage 
of that Path itself. Something more then will come to 
him than this recognition, that we have seen belongs to 
the man who is beginning to understand something of 
the nature of the life around him. And this candidate, 
who has stepped across the threshold of the Outer 
Court, finds that he recognises something that is behind 
the mind, something which is greater than the mind, 
something to which the mind bears a relation which has 
an analogy to the relation which is borne to the mind 
itself by the lower desire-nature ; that just as in the 
course of growth a man recognises the mind above the 
desires, so when he has stepped across the threshold, 
and even before he takes that step for it is the recog 
nition of this fact which leads to the gateway and partly 
opens that gateway to him he realises that this mind 
which seemed so great, this mind which seemed so 
mighty, which seemed to him in the days that lie but a 
little way behind to be the ruler of the world and its 
monarch, that mind of which it was said by a thinker 
that " there is nothing great in the Universe but man, 
and there is nothing great in man but mind," that all 
this comes from a view that is taken from below with a 
sight that is blinded, and that when the sight begins to 
clear itself it is seen that there is something greater in 



50 IN THE OUTER COURT. 

this Universe than this mind which seemed to be the 
greatest thing in man something which is sublimer, 
something which is vaster, something which only shines 
out for a moment, and then again is veiled. He recog 
nises dimly, poorly, not yet by knowledge but by hear 
say, that he has caught a glimpse of the Soul, that 
to him a ray of light has come downwards into the 
mind from something that is above it, and yet that he 
dimly seems to feel in some strange sense is itself, is 
identical with it. So that at first there will be a con 
fusion and a groping in the darkness, between this 
which seems to be himself although he had thought he 
himself was mind, and yet which seems so much greater 
than the mind. So that it seems to be himself, and yet 
greater than he, and he knows not at first whence this 
gleam may come, and whether the hope that it raised 
in him is a dream and nothing more. 

But before we can deal with the facts clearly at all, 
we must try to see what we mean by these words 
" Mind" and " Soul," what we mean when we speak of 
" Consciousness " ; for these words, if we are to under 
stand, must not for us be counters to play with, but real 
coins that represent something that we have of mental 
wealth, of ideas. So let us take these words for a 
moment and see what is meant by them, or at least 
what I will mean by them in using them, so that what I 
say will be clear, whether you agree with the definitions 
or not. I define the Soul as that which individualises 
the Universal Spirit, which focuses the Universal Light 



THOUGHT CONTROL. 51 

into a single point ; which is, as it were, a receptacle 
into which is poured the Spirit ; so that that which in 
Itself is universal, poured into this receptacle appears as 
separate, identical in its essence always but separated 
now in its manifestation ; the purpose of this separation 
being that an individual may develop and grow ; that 
there may be an individualised life potent on every 
plane in the Universe ; that it may know on the physical 
and on the psychical planes as it knows on the spiritual, 
and have no break in consciousness of any kind ; that it 
may make for itself the vehicles that it needs for acquir 
ing consciousness beyond its own plane, and then may 
gradually purify them one by one until they no longer 
act as blinds or as hindrances, but as pure and translu 
cent media through which all knowledge on every plane 
may come. But in using the word or image " recep 
tacle " I may mislead you ; and here is the difficulty 
with all expressions fitted for intellectual thinking ; that 
if one takes an image which on one point is applicable 
we find it on another misleading. For this process of 
individualisation is by no means the making of a 
receptacle and the pouring of something into it, so that 
at once that which is poured into it takes definite out 
line and shape, moulded into the shape of the vessel. 
What happens is more analogous to the way in 
which some great system, some Solar System say, is 
formed ; if you throw your imagination backwards 
in time, you might imagine space in which nothing 
is visible ; and you might then imagine that in 



52 IN THE OUTER COURT. 

that space where there seemed to be emptiness, but 
where there is really all fulness, only fulness invisible to 
the eye that in that space there comes a slight mist, 
too delicate almost to be called a mist at all, and yet 
that is the nearest word that would explain this begin 
ning of aggregation ; and then as you watch it, the mist 
grows denser and denser, and denser and denser as the 
time goes on, aggregating more and more closely to 
gether and becoming more separated from the space 
around it ; till that which seemed but the faintest of 
shadows begins to take to itself a shape, becoming more 
and more definite as it proceeds, until if you were 
watching this building of the worlds, you would see the 
nebula become denser and denser, and separating itself 
off more definitely in space, until a system was formed 
with a central sun and planets all around it. And so it 
seems, however blunderingly put, is this coming of 
Spirit into individualisation ; it is like the faint appear 
ance of a shadow in the universal void which is the 
fullest of all fulnesses, and then this shadow becomes a 
mist, and then it takes to itself clearer and clearer form, 
becoming more and more definite as evolution proceeds, 
until there is an individual, a Soul, where at first there 
was only the faintest shadow of a growing mist : such is 
the process (in picture) of this forming of the individual 
consciousness. And if you can take that thought of it 
for the moment, you will perchance realise how it is 
that the Soul is formed in the long course of evolution, 
and that this Soul is not a thing complete at first, 



THOUGHT CONTROL. 53 

plunging down like a diver into the ocean of matter, 
but is slowly, slowly builded, or densified, if I may still 
use the image, until out of the Universal it becomes the 
individual, and an individual that is ever growing as 
its evolution proceeds. That Soul lasts, as we know, 
from life to life through endless years, through count 
less centuries. It is the growing individual, and its 
consciousness is the consciousness of all that lies behind 
it in the process of its growth. The Soul is that entity, 
growing mighty to-day in some of the Sons of Men ; it 
has behind it a storied past ever present to this con 
sciousness which has grown so wide during its treading 
of the long path over which it has travelled ; it has this 
vast consciousness, taking all its lives into itself and 
realising all its past. And then as each new birth 
comes, and new experience has to be gathered, this 
Soul which has been growing through the ages casts 
out into new vestures a part of itself, to gather for it 
new experience ; and this part of itself which is flowing 
outwards on to the lower planes that there it may in 
crease the knowledge out of which the Soul is to grow 
still greater, this part of itself flowing outwards is what 
we call the Mind in man ; it is the part of the Soul that 
is working in the brain, confined in the brain, sorely 
fettered by the brain, with what is literally the burden 
of the flesh upon it, making its consciousness dimmer, 
for it cannot pierce through this thicker veil of matter ; 
all that greatness that we know as the Mind is only this 
struggling part of the Soul, working in this brain for 



54 IN THE OUTER COURT. 

purposes of the Soul s growth. And as it works in it, 
it shows out the powers of the Soul, for it is the Soul 
itself, although clothed in this limitation of matter, and 
as much of the Soul as can manifest through that brain 
is the mind of the person that we know, and sometimes 
much will manifest and sometimes little, according to 
the state of evolution which has been reached. But 
what the man in the Outer Court understands is that 
it is this Soul which is himself, and that the mind is 
only its passing manifestation. And then he begins to 
understand that just as the body and the desire-nature 
are to be subject to the mind, which is part of the Soul 
in prison, so that mind itself is to be subject to the great 
Soul of which it is only the projected representative of 
the moment ; that it is only an instrument, only an 
organ of the Soul, manifested for the sake of the work 
it performs, and for that which it has to gather and 
to draw back into the Soul, which is itself. 

Realising that then, what will be the position of our 
candidate ? The mind learns ; as this mind comes 
into contact with the outer world, it gathers together 
facts, it arranges them, it tabulates them, it forms its, 
judgments on them, and carries on all the rest of its 
intellectual processes ; the result of this activity passes 
upwards, passes along this expansion of the Soul 
upwards into the Soul itself or rather inwards ; it is 
this which the Soul takes with it into Devachan, and 
there works upon it all to change it into wisdom. For 
wisdom is very different from learning. Learning Js 



THOUGHT CONTROL. 55 

all that mass of facts, and of judgments on the facts, 
and of conclusions drawn therefrom ; wisdom is the 
extracted essence of the whole, that which the Soul 
has gathered out of all these experiences, and it is, as 
you are aware, its work in Devachan to turn these ex- 
periences into wisdom. But our candidate, who knows 
all this, will realise that it is this Soul which is " I " ; 
the Soul which has come through all these past lives 
and has been building itself in the coming, that is the 
" I " that is himself, so far as he yet can see. And 
then he begins to understand why it is said that at the 
very outset he has to distinguish between the " I " 
that endures and this mind which is only a passing 
manifestation of the " I ". Mind is the Soul s mani 
festation in the world of matter, it is manifested there 
in order that it may work for the purposes of the Soul ; 
and then he may begin to realise why it is that when 
the pupil sends out to the Master his first cry for 
teaching, when having found his way into the Outer 
Court, he cries: " O Teacher, what shall I do to reach 
to wisdom ? O Wise One, what, to gain perfection ? " 
those words that sound strange at first come from the 
lips of the Wise One : " Search for the Paths. But, O 
Lanoo, be of clean heart before thou startest on thy 
journey. Before thou takest thy first step, Te^rn to 
discern the real from the false, the ever-fleeting from 
the everlasting." * And then the Teacher goes on to 

* Voice of the Silence (Lotus Leaf Edition), pp. 34, 35. 



56 IN THE OUTER COURT. 

explain the difference between learning and wisdom 
what is ignorance, what is knowledge, and what is the 
wisdom that succeeds them both. And the distinction 
is drawn between the mind the mind that is "like a 
mirror ; it gathers dust while it reflects " ; the mind that 
needs the " breezes of Soul-wisdom to brush away the 
dust of our illusions ". And on those words the candi 
date, if he be wise, reflects. What is this difference 
between the real and the fleeting, and why is it con 
nected with the manifestation of the mind ? What is 
this difference between the mirror that reflects and the 
Soul that needs to dust the mirror if illusion is to be 
gotten rid of ? For what part can it be which this 
mind plays, which seems so mighty a function in man 
that it stood as the man himself in the lower world ? 
What is its function after all if the first step upon 
the Path is to distinguish what is illusory from what is 
real, and the mind in some subtle fashion is connected 
with the making of the illusion ? And there are other 
words which he remembers he has heard as coming 
also from the lips of these Masters of Wisdom. He 
remembers a strange word that came which spoke of 
the Rajah of the senses, ruler and king of the lower 
nature, but no friend of the disciple ; he remembers 
that in those very words where this Rajah of the senses 
is spoken of, at the outset of the teaching he 
remembers that he was bidden to seek out that Rajah 
of the senses so as to understand him, for he is "the 
Thought-Producer, he who awakes illusion " ; and the 



THOUGHT CONTROL. 57 

disciple is told that the " mind is the great slayer of 
the Real. Let the disciple slay the slayer."* Here 
then we seem to be on the track of some thought that 
will be illuminative to the candidate who is to seek out 
the Rajah of the senses ; that Rajah, or king, of the 
senses is the thought-producer, and he who produces 
thought is he who awakes illusion, it is he who slays 
the Real. For in the Spirit-World there is Reality ; as 
the process of differentiation proceeds, illusion is pro 
duced, and it is this mind, this growing mind, that 
makes the illusion. It is this growing mind that has 
endless images and pictures, that has the image-making 
faculty which we speak of as imagination, that has the 
reasoning faculty which builds on the airy picture that 
it has made it is this which is the real creator of 
illusion, it is this which slays the Real, so far as the 
disciple is concerned, and his first work as disciple 
will be to slay the slayer. JFor unless he can get, 
rid of this illusive power of the mind, he will never 
be able to penetrate beyond the Outer Court. And 
then listening still to the Teacher, he hears a voice 
which bids him seek to blend his Mind and Soul.f His 
work then will be to make some change in this lower 
mind which shall make it capable of blending with the 
higher, some destruction of its illusory power which 
shall enable it to know its own parent from whom it 
comes, that the Father and the Son may once more 
become one. 



* Voice of the Silence, p. 13. ^Ibid., p. 36. 

E 



58 IN THE OUTER COURT. 

And then he hears a teaching which in mystic 
language says to him that he must destroy the lunar 
body, that he must cleanse the mind-body ; * and 
studying that, and striving to understand what it 
means, he learns from many an allegory and from 
many a symbol, now becoming familiar to him in his 
lessons, he learns that what is called the lunar body is 
that body which belongs to Kama or Desire, that which 
is spoken of as the astral man ; and he learns that that 
is to be destroyed, and that the mind-body is to be 
cleansed. " Cleanse thy mind-body," the Teacher tells 
him, for only by cleansing away the dust of illusion 
will it be possible for that mind-body to re-enter itself, 
will it be possible for it to be blended with its Soul.. 
And now he begins to understand the work that lies 
before him in the Outer Court with regard to this 
mind. He begins to realise that he himself, this living 
Soul that has been climbing through the centuries, has 
been putting out this force of itself in order to create 
an instrument for its own use, a servant which is to be 
controlled ; that instead of the mind being master, the 
mind is to be an obedient slave, instrument in the hand 
that holds it, servant to him who sent it forth ; and as 
that grows upon him, the nature of his task unfolds 
itself before him and he begins to train his mind. 
And in seeking to do this at first he will have to begin 
with very simple matters ; he will find that this mind is 
always running about from one thing to another, hard 
* Voice of the Silence, p. 22. 



THOUGHT CONTROL. 59 

to control and difficult to curb, as Arjuna found it five 
thousand years ago, restless and uneasy, turbulent and 
difficult to restrain ; and he will begin at first by train 
ing it, as you would train a steed that you are breaking 
in for your riding, to go definitely along the road that 
you choose, not leaping over hedge and ditch, and 
racing across country in every direction, but going 
along the road that is chosen by the rider, along that 
and along no other. And so this candidate of ours in 
his daily life for he has to work out all this in the life 
of the world will gradually, as he works, train his 
mind in thinking consecutively and thinking definitely, 
and he will not permit himself to be led astray by all 
the manifold temptations around him, to the scattering 
of thought in every direction. He will refuse to scatter 
thought; he will insist that it shall pursue a definite 
path; he will decline to take all his knowledge in 
scraps, as though he had no power of following a sus 
tained argument ; he will put aside the endless tempta 
tions that surround him in this superficial age and 
time ; he will read by choice and by deliberate motive 
for it is here that the thought of the candidate is 
trained he will read with deliberate motive sustained 
arguments, long lines of argument which train the 
mind in going along one definite line for a considerable 
period, and he will not permit it to leap from one thing 
to another rapidly, thus intensifying the restlessness 
which is an obstacle in his path, and which will block 
his way utterly until it is overcome, 



60 IN THE OUTER COURT. 

And thus daily, and month by month, and year by 
year, he will work at his mind, training it in these con 
secutive habits of thought, and he will learn to choose 
that of which he thinks ; he will no longer allow 
thoughts to come and go ; he will no longer permit a 
thought to grip him and hold him ; he will no longer let 
a thought come into the mind and fix itself there and 
decline to be evicted ; he will be master within his 
own house^ He may have troubles in his daily life ; it 
matters not ; they will help him in this training of 
the mind. And when these troubles are very pressing, 
when these anxieties are very trying, when he finds 
himself inclined to look forwards and to worry over the 
troubles that are coming to him a few days, or a few 
weeks, or a few months hence, he will say: "No; no 
such anxiety shall remain within my mind ; no such 
thought shall have shelter within my mind ; within this 
mind nothing stays that is not there by my choice and 
my invitation, and that which comes uninvited shall be 
turned outside the limits of my mind ". People lie 
awake at night, filled with anxious thoughts, people are 
half killing themselves not by their troubles, but by the 
worries that those troubles cause within the mind; all 
that kind of thing will be put an end to by the candi 
date, for he will refuse to permit any action which is not 
by his own consent, and he will shut and lock the doors 
of the mind against all these thoughts that press in 
thither uninvited ; this will be a definite training, a diffi 
cult and a long training, for the thoughts break in and 



THOUGHT CONTROL. 6l 

he has to turn them out. And over and over and over 
again he must do it, and there is no way in which it 
can be done save by taking such a thought, whenever it 
comes in, and as often as it comes in, and deliberately 
declining to give it harbourage. You will say, "How ? " 
Probably at first most easily by giving the mind some 
thing else to think about ; later on by simply refusing 
to admit it. But until the candidate has grown strong 
enough thus to shut and lock the doors of his mind and 
remain therein undisturbed, he may do wisely to sub-i 
/ stitute one thought for another, and always to substitute 
some high thought which deals with the permanent for 
the thought he wants to get rid of, which deals with the 
transitory. For then it will serve the double purpose, 
not only of getting rid of the transitory thought, but 
also of habituating the mind to rest in the eternal, and v 
to gain that sense of proportion, that sense that the 
present is passing, and therefore is not worth troubling 
about ; on the side of the permanent, it will strengthen 
that dwelling of the mind in the eternal, which is the 
secret of all peace in this world, or in any other. 

And as he trains his mind in this way, and as 
gradually he gains power over it, and is able to make 
it think of the thing that he chooses and to refrain from 
thinking of that which he does not choose, he will take 
a further step more difficult than either of these, and he 
will withdraw himself from the mind and think not in 
the mind at all ; not because he is going to become 
unconscious, but because he is seeking a deeper con- 



62 IN THE OUTER COURT. 

sciousness ; not because the life in him is dulling or 
becoming lethargic, but because it has become so vivid 
that the brain is no longer able to contain it ; and with 
this growth of the inner life, with this increase of the life- 
energy that flows from the Soul, he will slowly find that 
it is possible to reach a stage where "thought" will no., 
longer be the thought of the mind, but the consciousness 
in the Soul ; long ere he will find that consciousness and 
realise it, as it were unbrokenly, he will have to pass 
through the stage of blankness, of emptiness, of void 
one of the most trying stages, perchance, of this life of 
our candidate in the Outer Court ; and then he will 
dimly begin to understand the meaning which is 
breathed in the words of the Teacher: " Restrain by 
thy Divine thy lower self; restrain by the Eternal the 
Divine".* The Divine Self is this Soul which is to 
restrain the lower mindj but then beyond the Soul 
is the Eternal, and, in some future that lies within the 
Temple, that Eternal is to restrain the Divine in him, 
even as the Divine restrains the lower self. And then / 
he gradually and slowly learns that he is to be master 
of everything that is around him, with which mind- 
thought is connected in anyway; that he will come to 
one of the stages in this Outer Court where subtle tempta 
tions will be flocking around him, temptations that do not 
touch the lower nature, but that dare to raise themselves 
against the higher, and that strive to use the mind for 

* Voice of the Silence, p. 47. 



THOUGHT CONTROL. 63 

the destruction of the disciple, having failed to use the 
desire-nature or the grosser temptations of the body. 
And then come those subtle temptations that ensnare 
the inner man, those thronging crowds of temptations 
that come round him as he is rising upwards along his 
difficult path, temptations of the thought-world throng 
ing round him from every side ; he must havej^ained 
utter control over the mental images he himself has_ 
created ere he will be able to hold his own unshaken , 
serene, unruffled, amid all these hosts of hurrying 
thoughts that are now coming to him, vitalised and 
strengthened no longer by the feeble minds of men in 
the lower world, but with a tremendous impulse which 
has in it something of the nature of the forces of the 
spiritual plane, from the dark side and not from the 
white, from those who would fain slay the Soul, and not 
from those who would help it. And in the Outer Court 
he finds himself face to face with these, and they rush 
on him with the energy that comes from those mighty 
forces for evil ; and if he have not learned and have not 
trained himself to be master within the limits of the 
mind against the puny attacks that meet him in the 
outer world, how then shall he hold his own against 
these hosts of Mara, the Evil One ? How shall he cross 
that fourth stage in the Outer Court, round which these 
enemies of the Soul are clustering, and which refuse that 
any shall go through who is not absolutely at peace ? 
And then there comes this strength which grows out of 
the fixity of the mind, the mind which now has grown 



64 IN THE OUTER COURT. 

so strong that it can fix itself on what it will, and stay 
there unshaken, no matter what whirlwind may be going 
on around ; a fixity so great, so steady, that nothing that 
is without can avail to shake it at all, which has grown so 
strong that it does not need effort any longer, that it does 
not need to slay any more, for it has gone beyond the stage 
where such effort is necessary ; the stronger the Soul, 
the less of effort in its working ; the mightier the power, 
the less it feels assaults that come to it from without. 

Then that great stage of the mind is reached when, 
instead of being slain, thoughts fall dead of themselves 
when they reach the shrine ; no longer need the mind 
slay, no longer need itself be slain ; it has become 
cleansed, pure and obedient. And the result of that 
which is the beginning of the blending of the Mind and 
of the Soul is that the moment anything alien strikes 
against it, it falls dead of its own impulsion ; there is no 
longer need to strike, for all that needs to be struck at 
falls dead by the throwing back of its own blow ; and 
this is that fixity of the mind of which it is written that 
the lamp is placed in a steady spot where no wind can 
cause it to flicker. It is in that place of rest where the 
will is beginning to be realised ; it is there that there is 
absolute peace ; it is a spot under the shadow of the 
Temple walls ; and it is of that that it is written in an 
ancient Scripture that when a man is free from desire, 
when he is free from grief, it is then in the tranquillity 
of the senses that he beholds the majesty of the Soul ; * 
* Kathopanishad, ii., 20. 



THOUGHT CONTROL. 65 

then he sees indeed for the first time, no longer by .broken 
gleam, by ray that comes and goes, but in this absolute_ 
peace and serenity where there is no desire and no 
ruffling of grief ; there the majesty of the Soul shines out 
unbroken, and the mind, now a mirror which is polished, 
reflects it back as it really is. For this mind, that in 
the early days was a dust-covered mirror, this mind, 
that was as the lake ruffled by the winds that blow from 
every side, has become as the polished mirror that 
reflects perfectly ; it has become as the lake which gives 
back everything in mountain and in sky, the trees to 
the trees, the stars to the stars, and which has every 
shade of colour in the heavens, throwing them back 
again to the heavens whence they come. But how ? 
There is a moment of danger ere this, of which the 
warning voice has spoken ; there is a moment when this 
spot is almost reached where the lamp will no longer 
flicker, when the mind and the Soul join foi a moment 
in a last struggle, when the mind becomes as a mad 
elephant that rages in the jungle ; how then shall it be 
tajged L It is the last struggle of the mind ; it is the 
final effort of the lower to assert itself against the higher, 
feeling the bonds that are upon it that rising up of the 
lower nature of which every book of Initiation has spoken. 
For it has been written in every book that speaks of the 
Hidden Wisdom that, as the candidate approaches the 
gateway, ere he passes into the Temple, all the powers 
of Nature rise up against him to drag him down ; every 
power that is in trie world comes out against him ; it is 



66 IN THE OUTER COURT. 

the last struggle to be passed through ere the conquest 
is complete. On higher planes yet there is a struggle 
of which this is the reflection ; on planes so high that we 
cannot image them, whereto the greatest of the great 
have found their way ; and that is symbolised in the last 
struggle of the Buddha beneath the Sacred Tree ; there 
where came to Him the last illumination that made 
Him Buddha, all the hosts gathered round for the last 
struggle to see if still His passage could be blocked ; and 
though on infinitely lower planes, there is that crucial 
struggle also in the life that is now the life of the dis 
ciple, and that is now coming near the gateway of the 
Temple. 

How shall he conquer in the struggle? How shall 
he on his probationary pathway tread in the footsteps 
of those who have gone before ? And still from the 
words of the Teacher there comes the help, still from 
His lips a hint which shall guide us : " It needs," we 
hear spoken in the silence, " it needs points to draw it 
towards the Diamond Soul ".* What is the Diamond 
Soul ? It is the Soul that has accomplished its union 
with the true Self; it is the Soul without spot or flaw 
in any part, translucent as the diamond is translucent 
to the Light of the LOGOS, which it focuses for men ; 
the mighty Name that just now I spoke, as I might 
speak other Names that really mean the same although 
in other tongues, is that of a Soul high above all 

* Voice of the Silence, p. 35. 



THOUGHT CONTROL. 67 

others to whom belongs this title of the Diamond Soul, 
through which the Light of the LOGOS Itself shines 
down to men, shines down undimmed, so pure is the 
Diamond, so spotless, so absolutely flawless is that Soul. 
It is the Soul to which we look at the moments of our 
highest aspiration ; and that which we need to draw us 
upwards towards It, is only one glimpse of Its beauty, 
is only one touch from Its fire ; for the Soul grows up 
wards towards its own as the flower grows towards the 
light, and the points that draw it upwards are these 
radiant outshinings from the Diamond Soul, which 
pour down on that which is Itself, although so weak 
and hesitating, and draw it upwards with Divine 
strength to union with Itself. And as the disciple 
begins to understand, there grows upon him what is 
meant by the Diamond Soul ; he realises that in himself 
also that Diamond Soul is to be re-incarnate " Look 
inwards ! Thou art Buddha ! " that this mind of his, 
like this body of his, is but an instrument for Its ser 
vice, and_is_j3nj^_j]j3e^^ it makes musjc 
worthy to reach the higher. And then by devotion 
these strings of the mind are tuned, are utterly subdued 
to the Soul ; the Soul tunes them by the power of devo- 
tion, and then it becomes an instrument of music fit for 
the Master s touch ; then it becomes an instrument of 
music from which all melodies in heaven and in earth 
may sound ; and at last the disciple stands before the 
gateway and realises that what has happened is this : 
that he himself has found Himself; that the Soul that 



68 IN THE OUTER COURT. 

is Himself is looking upwards to One yet higher with 
whom it is now going to blend and to become one ; 
the further union takes place only within the Temple ; 
standing at the gateway he has only united Himself 
eternal to his self that was perishable Himself the 
Soul to himself that was mind. And then he begins 
the worship which means identification with the high 
est ; then he learns that in his daily life the Soul 
can always be worshipping, no matter what the mind 
may do, and in what the body may be active ; he real 
ises at last that the life of the disciple is absolutely 
unbroken worship of the Highest, contemplation that 
never ceases of the Diamond Soul, contemplation 
of the Supreme which knows no break ; that while the 
Soul is ever thus busied in the Court of the Temple, 
the body and the mind will be at work for the humanity 
that needs them, in the Outer Court, and beyond it in 
the world ; that this body can be ever active working 
for men, that this mind may be ever busy working for 
men ; they are instruments while the man is living, they 
are his messengers and his workers while himself is 
worshipping. And then he realises what it means that 
" in heaven their Angels always behold the face of the 
Father," for the vision of the Father-Soul is an un 
broken vision, no cloud of earth may dim it, no work 
on earth may mar it ; ever the Soul is beholding, while 
the mind and the body are labouring, and when that is 
achieved the threshold is being crossed, and from the Outer 
Court the Soul is entering into the Temple of its Lord. 



THE BUILDING OF CHARACTER. 



LECTURE III. 



Cfte igtrilDtng; of Character, 

IN beginning this third lecture of the course, I want 
as a preliminary step to repeat the warning that I gave 
you in the first lecture, with regard to the qualifications 
with which I am dealing, and the line of thought and of 
action which will be followed by those who are in the 
position that I have called " In the Outer Court ". You 
will remember that I said to you that the position of an 
aspirant who had reached that Court was very different 
from the position even of the good and virtuous and 
religious man, who had not thoroughly seen the goal 
which was before him, who had not thoroughly realised 
the magnitude of his task. And I want again to remind 
you that in the whole of this, in which I am sketching 
the qualifications of those who come into the Court, I 
am dealing with everything from this standpoint of a 
deliberate self-training towards an aim that is definitely 
recognised ; and more than that, that I by no means 
mean in speaking of these qualifications that they are 



72 . IN THE OUTER COURT. 

completely achieved while the aspirant still remains in 
the Outer Court of the Temple. He begins, as it were, 
the making of the character, he realises to some extent 
what he ought to be, and he strives more or less effec 
tively to become that which he aspires to achieve. It 
is not that the definite purification, or the complete con 
trol of the thoughts, or the perfect building of the 
character, or the entire transmutation of the lower into 
the higher it is not that all these must be accom 
plished ere he "in stand on the threshold of the 
Temple ; he is really employed whilst in the Outer 
Court in drawing as it were the foundations of his 
buildings, in sketching out carefully and fairly fully the 
outlines of that edifice which he hopes to carry to per 
fection. The working out of all these lines, the building 
on this foundation, the raising of the walls higher and 
higher, the placing of the crowning stone finally upon 
the work that is done rather within the Temple than 
without it, after the eyes have been opened, not while 
they are still partially blinded and the aspirant is in the 
Outer Court. But what I do want you to understand is 
that the plan is sketched, that the plan is recognised ; 
that nothing less than this very much more may come 
in the course of the ages that nothing less than this is 
the goal that the candidate sets before himself for the 
reaching ; so that however great may seem the aspira 
tions, however magnificent may seem the outline which 
is to be filled in, that outline is to be definitely recog 
nised in the Outer Court, although not to be filled in in 



THE BUILDING OF CHARACTER. 73 

detail, and however lowly may be the achievements of 
the present they are none the less the definite founda 
tions on which the glorious achievements of the future 
are to be based. And I say this thus explicitly, 
although it be a repetition, because it was suggested to 
me that in making so wide a scope for the Outer Court, 
in tracing so vast an outline, it might come on some of 
my hearers with a sense of discouragement if not of 
despair ; so that it is well that all should understand 
that while the beginnings are traced they may still be 
only the beginnings, and that after the threshold is 
crossed, there are still many lives in front in which these 
beginnings may be carried to fulfilment, and this plan 
of the architect serves as basis for the finished edifice. 
Taking then that as a thing to be understood, let me 
remind you of the building of the character, which is to 
be a distinct and a positive building which this candi 
date in the Outer Court will set before himself; we 
have seen already that he is to have been in past lives a 
virtuous and a religious man, that is, that he will have 
already realised that nothing of absolute vice must have its 
place in him, that nothing of evil must be permitted to 
remain ; that if any seed of vice remain, it must at once 
be flung without, that if any tendencies towards positive 
evil are still there, they must be completely and entirely 
rooted out. Here in this Court there can be at least 
no compromise with evil, here there can be at least no 
paltering with that which is not right and pure and good. 
While there may still be failures in the achievement of the 



74 IN THE OUTER COURT. 

right, there is most definitely no contented remaining in 
the wrong ; that has had the back of the aspirant definitely 
turned upon it, and all the grosser part of the nature 
will already have been eliminated, all the rougher part 
of the inner struggle will have been finished. Into the 
Court of the Temple utterly unhewn stones cannot be 
brought for the building ; the hewing must have been 
going on during many previous lives, much work must 
have been done upon the characters before they become 
fit to be built at all even in the Outer Court of such a 
Temple. And this rough-hewing of the character is 
supposed to lie behind us ; we are dealing with the 
building of the positive virtues, and virtues of an exceed 
ingly high and noble type ; virtues which are not those 
simply that are recognised as necessary in the world, 
but far rather those which the aspirant desires to 
achieve in order that he may become one of the Helpers 
and the Saviours of the world, those characteristics that 
go to make up one of the world s Redeemers, one of the 
pioneers of the first-fruits of mankind. 

The first thing perhaps that will strike us, in this 
building of character by one who is in the Outer Court, 
is its exceedingly deliberate nature. It is not a thing 
of fits and starts, it is not a casual building and leaving 
off, it is not an effort in this direction one day and in 
another direction to-morrow, it is not a running about 
seeking for aims, it is not a turning about looking for a 
purpose ; the whole of this at least is definitely done, 
the purpose is recognised and the aim is known. And 



THE BUILDING OF CHARACTER. 75 

the building is a deliberate building, as by one who 
knows that he has time, and that nothing in Nature 
can be lost ; a deliberate building which begins with 
the materials ready to hand, which begins with the 
character as it is recognised to exist, which looks, as 
we shall see, quietly at all its strength and at all its 
weaknesses, and sets to work to improve the one and 
to remedy the other ; a deliberate building towards a 
definite aim, a carving in permanent material of a statue 
of which the mould has already been made. 

And so the first thing that will be noticed in these 
candidates in the Outer Court is this definiteness of 
purpose and this deliberateness of action. The man 
knows that he will carry everything on that he makes ; 
that from life to life he will take with him the 
treasures that he has accumulated ; that if he finds a 
deficiency and only partly fills it up, still it is filled up 
to that extent, that part of the work is done ; that if he 
makes for himself a power, that power is his for ever 
more, a part of the Soul never to be taken away from 
it, woven into the texture of the individual, not again 
ever to be separated from him. And he builds with 
this deliberate purpose which has its root in knowledge, 
recognising the Law that underlies every aspect of 
Nature. Realising that that Law is changeless, know 
ing that he may trust it with uttermost and completest 
faith, he calls upon the Law and knows that the Law 
will answer, he appeals to the Law and is confident 
that the Law will judge. There is in him then no 



76 IN THE OUTER COURT. 

trace of wavering, no shadow of doubting ; he gives 
out that which must needs bring to him his harvest, 
and every seed that he sows, he sows with this absolute 
certainty that the seed will bear fruit after its kind, that 
that and none other will come back to him in future 
days. So there is naught of hurry in his work, naught 
of impatience in his labour ; if the fruit be not ripe, he 
can wait for the gathering; if the seed be not ready, 
he can wait for the growing. He knows that this Law 
to which he has given himself is at once changeless and 
good ; that the Law will bring all in its appointed time, 
and that the appointed time is best for him and for the 
world. And so, as I said, he starts with his available 
material, content with it because it is what the 
Law brings him from his past ; content with it 
because it is that with which he has to work, 
that and nothing else ; and whether full or scanty, 
whether poor and small or rich and great, he 
takes it and begins to work with it, knowing that 
however scanty it be there is no limit to the wealth to 
which it may be increased, and knowing that however 
small it may bulk to-day, there is no limit to the vast- 
ness to which it may grow in the years which lie in 
front. He knows that he must succeed ; not a question 
of possibility but of certitude, not a question of chance 
but of definite reality. The Law must give back the 
equivalent of that which he gives, and even if he give 
but little, that little will come back to him, and from 
that he will build in the future, adding always something 



THE BUILDING OF CHARACTER. 77 

to the store, standing a little higher with each achieve 
ment, with each new accomplishment. 

Already we know something of the way in which he will 
build ; we know that he will begin with right thought ; 
and we studied last week this control of the thoughts, 
which is necessary in order that the right may be chosen, 
and the wrong may be rejected ; working steadily at that 
thought control and knowing its conditions, understand 
ing the laws by which thoughts are generated and by 
which thoughts act in the world and react upon their 
generator, he is now in a condition definitely to choose 
right thought for the building of his character. And 
this stage of right thinking will be one of the early steps 
that he will take while he is traversing the Outer Court. 
First of all because his right thinking affects others 
and all those who are thus candidates for the Temple 
have their primary motive in the service of others so 
that, in the choosing of his thought, in the selection of 
the thoughts that he either generates or permits to come 
within his consciousness, his first motive for such choice 
will be the effect that these thoughts will have upon 
others, not in the first place the effect they will have 
upon himself; far above and beyond all else he is quali 
fying for service, and therefore as he chooses the 
thoughts to which he will bend his energy, he calculates 
their action on the outer world how far they will work 
for helping, how far they will work for strengthening, 
how far they will work for purifying ; and into the great 
stream of thoughts that he knows must go out from his 



78 IN THE OUTER COURT. 

consciousness, understanding how that stream is work 
ing, he will send the thoughts that are useful to others, 
with the deliberate purpose of this serving, with the de 
liberate object of this helping of the world. 

And next he will consider the nature of the thoughts 
as they affect himself, as they react upon him to make 
his character, a thing that in a few moments we shall 
see is of the most vital importance, for here indeed is 
the instrument by which the character will be built ; 
and not only as they react upon his character, but also 
as, in making that character, they turn it into a magnet 
for other thoughts, so that he, acting as a focus for high 
and noble thoughts not now, we may hope, for thoughts 
that are actively injurious 7 will deliberately make his 
consciousness a magnet for everything that is good, so 
that all that is evil may die as it strikes against him, as 
we saw last week, and all that is good may flow into 
his consciousness to gain there fresh nourishment, to 
gain there fresh strength and fresh energy ; that the 
good thoughts of others coming to him may go out with 
new life-impulse given to them, and that he may act not 
only as a source of help by the thoughts he generates, 
but as a channel of helping by the thoughts that he 
receives, that he revivifies, and that he transmits. And 
these will go to the making of character, so that at the 
beginning of the building this right thinking will be one 
dominant influence in his mind, and he will constantly 
be watching his thoughts, scrutinising them with the 
most jealous care, in order that into this sanctuary of 



THE BUILDING OF CHARACTER. 79 

the consciousness nothing may come which will offend, 
for unless this be guarded all else is left open to the 
enemy. It is the very citadel of the castle ; at the same 
time it is the gateway through which everything enters in. 
And then he will learn in this building of character 
perhaps he has already learned to guard his speech ; for 
right speech, to begin with, must be true, scrupulously 
and accurately true, not with the commonplace truthful 
ness of the world, though that be not a thing to be 
despised, but of that scrupulous and strict truthfulness 
which is necessary above all to the student of Occultism 
truth of observation, truth of recording, truth of 
thinking, truth of speaking, truth of acting ; for where 
there is not this seeking after truth and this strenuous 
determination to become true, there is no possibility of 
Occultism which is aught but a danger, there is no pos 
sibility of anything but fall, deep and terrible, in pro 
portion to the height to which the student may have 
climbed. For this quality of truth in the Occultist is 
at once his guide and his shield : his guide, in that it 
gives him the insight which enables him to choose the 
true road from the false, the right-hand path from the 
left ; and his shield, in that only as he is covered with 
this shield of truth, can all the delusions and the 
glamours of the planes through which he passes fall 
harmless. For it is in the practice of truth in thought, 
in speech, and in act, that there gradually wakes up 
that spiritual insight which pierces through every veil 
of illusion, and against which there can be in Nature no 



80 IN THE OUTER COURT. 

possibility of setting up a successful deception. Every 
where veils are spread, everywhere in the world of illu 
sion this deceitfulness of appearances is to be found, 
until the spiritual insight can pierce through the whole 
of them with unchanging and direct vision. There is no 
such thing as the development of spiritual insight, save 
as truth is followed in the character, as truth is cultivated 
in the intellect, as truth is developed in the conscience ; 
without this nothing but failure, without this nothing 
but inevitable blunder and mistake. 

The speech first of all, then, will be true, and next 
it will be gentle. For truth and gentleness are not in 
opposition, as too often we are inclined to think, and 
speech loses nothing of its truth by being perfect in its 
gentleness and perfect also in its courtesy and its com 
passion. The more true it is the more gentle it -needs 
must be, for at the very heart of all things is truth and 
also compassion ; therefore the speech that reflects the 
innermost essence of the Universe can neither causelessly 
wound any living being, nor be false with the slightest sha 
dow of suspicion. True and gentle then the speech must be, 
true and gentle and courteous ; that is said to be the aus 
terity of speech, the true penance and sacrifice of speech 
which is offered up by every aspirant. And then out of the 
right speaking and the right thinking, inevitably must 
flow right acting ; that, as an outcome, must be the 
result of this flowing forth from the source. For action 
is only the manifestation of that which is within, and 
where the thought is pure, where the speech is true and 



THE BUILDING OF CHARACTER. 8l 

right, there the action must inevitably be noble ; out of 
such sweet source the water can only be sweet in the 
flowing, out of the heart and the brain that have been 
purified necessarily the action must be right and good. 
And that is the three-fold cord by which the aspirant is 
bound alike to humanity and to his Master ; the three 
fold cord which, in some great religions, stands as type 
of this perfect self-control ; self-control in thought, in 
speech and in action that is the triple cord which 
binds the man to service that is perfect in its character, 
which binds the disciple to the Feet of his Master ; the 
three-fold cord which may not easily be broken. 

When all this is realised, and the beginning of it 
attempted, this candidate of ours will begin a very 
definite method of practice in his building of the charac 
ter, and first he will form what is called an " Ideal ". 
Let us have clearly in the mind what we mean when 
we use this word " Ideal ". The mind working within 
itself builds an internal image, which is made as the 
mind grows in strength out of much that it draws from 
the outer world ; but although it draws the materials 
from the outer world, the idea is the result of the inter 
nal action of the mind upon the materials. An idea is 
at its highest an abstract thing, and if we realise how 
the abstract idea is formed in the mere brain-conscious 
ness, we shall then have a very clear view of what is 
meant by an ideal ; a little enlargement of the idea will 
give us exactly what we require. Let me take the 
ancient illustration, an abstract idea of a triangle. The 



82 IN THE OUTER COURT. 

idea of a triangle may be gained at first by the brain- 
consciousness working in the child through a study of 
many forms which he is told are triangles. He will 
notice that they are of many different shapes, that they 
are made up of lines which go in very different direc 
tions. He will find when he looks at them separately 
and with this brain-consciousness of the child he will 
find them exceedingly different, so that looking at them 
at first he will see them as many figures, and will not 
recognise certain underlying unities which give them all 
the same name. But as he goes onward in his thinking 
he will gradually learn that there are certain definite 
conceptions which underlie this one conception of the 
triangle ; that it always has three lines and no more ; 
that it always has three angles and no more ; that these 
three angles put together have always a certain definite 
value, and that the three lines, called the sides of the 
triangle, bear certain relations to each other, and 
so on. All these different conceptions he will gain 
as he studies, and the mind, working upon the whole 
of these, extracts from them what is called an ab 
stract idea of a triangle, which has no particular size, 
and no particular shape, and no particular angles 
taken separately. And this abstract idea is made up 
by the working of the mind on all the many concrete 
forms, so far as the brain-consciousness is concerned. 
What greater idea this may be the reflection of, I am 
not now considering ; but it is thus that in the brain 
what is called an abstract idea is built, which has 



THE BUILDING OF CHARACTER. 83 

neither colour nor shape nor any special characteristic 
of any one form, and which unites within itself that 
which makes the many forms of it a unity. And so 
when we build an ideal it is an idea of this abstract 
kind, it is the work of the image-building faculty of the 
mind, which draws out the essence of all the different 
ideas that it has gained of great virtues of that which 
is beautiful, of that which is true, of that which is 
harmonious, of that which is compassionate, of that 
which is in every sense satisfying to the aspirations of 
the mind, of the heart. From all these different ideas, 
as they have been seen limited in manifestation, the 
essence is extracted, and then the mind constructs and 
throws outwards a vast heroic figure in which every 
thing is carried to perfection ; in which everything 
touches its highest and most complete expression ; in 
which we no longer deal with the things that are true, 
but with truth ; no longer with the things that are 
beautiful, but with beauty ; no longer with the things 
that are strong, but with strength ; no longer with the 
things that are tender, but with tenderness; no longer 
with the beings who are loving, but with love ; and this 
perfect figure mighty and harmonious in all its propor 
tions, grander than anything we have seen, only not 
grander than that which in rare moments of inspiration 
the Spirit has cast downwards into the mind that 
ideal of perfection it is which the aspirant makes for 
himself as perfect as he is able to conceive it, knowing 
all the time that his most perfect dreaming is but the 



84 IN THE OUTER COURT. 

faintest shadow of the reality whence this reflection has 
come. For in the world of the Real, there exists in 
living light that which down here he sees, as it were, in 
faint reflection of colour, hanging high in the heavens 
over the snowy mountains of human aspiration ; it is 
still only the shadow of the Reality whence it has been 
reflected, all that the human soul may image of the 
perfect, of the sublime, of the ultimate All that we 
seek. This ideal he forms is still imperfect, for it 
must needs be so ! But, however imperfect it may be, 
none the less for him it is the ideal according to which 
his character is to be built. 

But why make an ideal ? Those of you who have 
gone so far with me in the working of thought will 
know why an ideal is necessary. Let me take two 
sentences, one from a great Hindu scripture and the 
other from a Christian, to show you how Initiates speak 
of the same facts, no matter in what tongue they talk, 
no matter to what civilisation their words may be ad 
dressed. It is written in one of the most mystical 
of the Upanishads, the Chhdndogya : " Man is a 
creature of reflection ; what he reflects upon, that he 
becomes ; therefore reflect upon Brahman ".* And many 
thousand years afterwards another great Teacher, one 
of the builders of Christianity, wrote exactly the same 
thought put into other words : " But we all, with open 
face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are 
changed into the same image from glory to glory ".) 
* Op. cit., III. xiv. i. t 2 Cor. iii. 18. 



THE BUILDING OF CHARACTER. 85 

Beholding as in a glass : for the mind is a mirror and 
images are cast upon it and are reflected, and the Soul 
that in the mirror of the mind beholds the glory of the 
Lord is changed into that same image from glory to 
glory. So that whether you take the Hindu speaker 
or the Christian, whether you read the scripture of the 
Indian or the scripture of the Western Sage, still the 
same teaching of the Brotherhood comes out to you that 
you must have the ideal before you in order that you 
may reflect it, and that that on which the mind is con 
stantly dwelling will inevitably be that which the man 
shall become. 

And how shall the building towards the ideal be made ? 
For that is the question that we must now consider. 
By contemplation : definitely, with full purpose, choos 
ing his time and not permitting himself to be shaken 
from it, this aspirant who is disciplining his own 
character will contemplate day by day the ideal that 
he has builded. He will fix his mind upon it, and con 
stantly reflect it in his consciousness. Day by day he 
will go over its outline, day by day he will dwell upon 
it in thought, and, as he contemplates, inevitably within 
him will rise up that reverence and that awe which are 
worship, the great transforming power by which the 
man becomes that which he adores, and this contem 
plation will essentially be the contemplation of rever 
ence and r r aspiration. And as he contemplates, the rays 
of the Divine Ideal will shine down upon him, and the 
aspiration upwards will open the windows of the Soul 



86 IN THE OUTER COURT. 

to receive them ; so that they shall illuminate him from 
within, and then cast a light without, the ideal shining 
ever above and within him, and marking out the path 
along which his feet must tread. And in order that he 
may thus contemplate, he must train himself in concen 
tration ; the mind is not to be scattered, as our minds 
so often are. We have to learn to fix it, and to fix it 
steadily, and this is a thing that we should be working 
at continually, working at in all the common things of 
life, doing one thing at a time until the mind answers 
obediently to the impulse, and doing it with the con 
centrated energy which bends the whole mind towards 
a single point. No matter that many things that you 
have to do are trivial ; it is the way of doing them, and 
not the things that are done, that makes the training 
which results in discipleship not the particular kind of 
work that you have to do in the world, but the way 
that you do it, the mind that you bring to it, the forces 
with which you execute it, the training that you gain 
from it. And it matters not what the life may be, that 
life will serve for the purpose of the training ; for how 
ever trivial may be the particular work in which you 
are engaged at the moment, you can use it as a training- 
ground for the mind, and by your concentration you 
may be making your mind one-pointed, no matter what 
for the moment may be the point to which it is directed. 
For remember, when once you have gained the faculty, 
then you can choose the object ; when once the mind 
is definitely in your hand, so that you can turn it hither 



THE BUILDING OF CHARACTER. 87 

and thither as you will, then you can choose for yourself 
the end to which it shall be directed. But you may 
just as well practise and gain the control in little things 
as in great ; in fact, very much better, because the 
little things are around us every day, whereas the great 
things come but seldom. When the great thing comes, 
the whole mind arouses itself to meet it ; when the great 
thing comes, the whole attention is fixed upon it ; when 
the great thing comes, every energy is called to 
play upon it, so that you may bear yourself well when 
the mighty task is to be accomplished. But the real 
value of the Soul is tested more in the little things 
where there is nothing to arouse attention, nothing in 
any sense to gain applause, where the man is deliber 
ately working for the end that he has chosen, and is 
using everything around him in order that he may dis 
cipline himself. That self-discipline is the key of 
the whole. Guide your life by some plan ; make to 
yourself certain rules into which your life shall flow ; 
and when you have made them, keep to them, and alter 
them only as deliberately as at first you formed them. 
Take so simple a thing for the body has to be brought 
under control take so simple a thing as a definite rule 
of rising in the morning ; fix the time that you feel is 
best for your work, for your place in your household, 
and when you have fixed it, keep to it. Do not permit 
the body at the moment to choose its own time, but 
train it in that instant and automatic obedience which 
makes it a useful servant of the mind. And if you find 



88 IN THE OUTER COURT. 

after practising for some time that you have chosen 
badly, then change ; do not be rigid because you are 
striving to strengthen your will ; be ready to change 
what does not work well ; but change it at your own 
time and with perfect deliberation ; do not change it 
because on the impulse of the moment passion or bodily 
desire or emotion may be ruling; do not change it 
at the demand of the lower nature that has to be dis 
ciplined, but change it if you find that you have badly 
chosen. For never in ruling your own life must you 
make your rule a hindrance to those around you, or 
choose ways of self-discipline that aggravate or interrupt 
others instead of simply training yourself. 

The next stage, when all this has been clearly recog 
nised as the way in which the character is to be builded, 
will be to study the character itself; for you are to work 
with knowledge and not blindly. You will perhaps, if 
you are wise, in judging your character, take some of the 
things that great men have put before you as outlining 
a character which will lead you to the Gate of the 
Temple. You might take, for instance, such a trac 
ing as is given in the sixteenth discourse in the Bha- 
gavad Gita by Shri Krishna to Arjuna, where he is tell 
ing Arjuna what should be the qualities which build up 
the divine character. You might take that as showing 
you the qualities at which you should aim in building 
yourself, and as marking out for you that which you 
desire gradually to evolve. And if you take it as it is 
sketched in the sixteenth discourse, you find a list of 



THE BUILDING OF CHARACTER. 89 

qualities, every one of which might well serve as part 
of your constant thought and endeavour, remembering 
that the character is built first by the contemplation 
of the virtue, and then by the working out of that vir 
tue which has become part of the thought into the 
speech and the action of daily life. And the list runs 
however great it is, we have time enough before us to 
fill it in " Fearlessness, Purity of Heart, Steadfastness 
in the Yoga of Wisdom, Almsgiving, Self-restraint and 
Sacrifice, and Study of the Shastras, Austerity and 
Straightforwardness, Harmlessness, Truth, Absence of 
Wrath, Renunciation, Peacefulness, Absence of Calumny, 
Compassion to Living Beings, Uncovetousness, Mild 
ness, Modesty, Absence of Fickleness, Boldness, For 
giveness, Fortitude, Uprightness, Amity, Absence of 
Pride these become his who is born with the divine 
qualities". Not are his at once, but become his, and 
are made in the building of the character. And you 
will find, if you read these at your leisure and with 
care, that you can group them together under very de 
finite heads, and that each of these may be practised, 
at first of course very imperfectly but still steadily, and 
day by day with never a feeling of discouragement at 
the lack of achievement, but only with joy in recogni 
tion of the goal, and knowing that each step is a step 
towards an end which shall be achieved. And notice 
how through them run the golden threads of unselfish 
ness, of love, of harmlessness ; see how courage and 

strength and endurance find also their place, so that 

G 



go IN THE OUTER COURT. 

you get an exquisite balance of character, a character 
that is at once strong and tender, that is at once 
self-reliant and compassionate, that is at once a 
helper of the weak and in itself strong and unmoved, 
that is full of devotion and full of harmlessness, 
that is full of self-discipline and therefore of harmony. 
Let us suppose you accept that to some extent as an 
ideal for the guidance of daily thinking, and you begin to 
work it out ; let us consider a point that is often found 
in connection with this effort, which is often found in 
summing up many virtues together, and which is much 
misunderstood ; pausing a moment upon it, let us see 
how the building of character towards this virtue will be 
carried on. It is a name which is strange in English 
ears : it is indifference ; and sometimes it is worked 
out in detail as indifference to pleasure and pain, indif 
ference to cold and heat, indifference to blame and 
applause, indifference to desire and aversion, and so on ; 
what does it really mean ? 

First of all, it means that sense of proportion which 
must come into the life of one who has gained a glimpse 
of the Real amid the fleeting, of the permanent amid 
the transitory ; for when once the greatness of the goal 
has been recognised, when once the numberless lives 
have been realised, when once the aspirant has under 
stood all the length of time that lies in front of 
him, all the vastness of the task that he is going to 
achieve, all the grandeur of the possibilities that lie 
still unveiled before him ; when he has caught some 



THE BUILDING OF CHARACTER. QI 

glimpse of the Real, then all the things of one fleeting 
life must take their place in proportion to the whole. 
And when a trouble comes, that trouble will no longer 
bulk so largely as it did when one life was all that he 
realised, for he will begin to understand that he has 
been through many troubles before, and has come out 
the stronger and the more peaceful for the passage. And 
when joy comes, he will know that he has been through 
many joys before, and has learned their lessons also, 
and has found amid other things that they are transi 
tory ; and so when a joy comes or a pain, he will take 
it, not failing to feel it, feeling it really far more keenly 
than the ordinary man of the world can feel, but feel 
ing it in its true place and at its true worth, and giving 
it only its real value in the great scheme of life. So 
that as he grows in this indifference, it is not that he 
becomes less capable of feeling, for he is ever becoming 
more sensitive to every thrill of the world within and of 
the world without inasmuch as he has become more 
harmonious with the All, he must become more respon 
sive to every shade of harmony that is therein but 
that none of these may avail to shake him, that none of 
these may avail to change him, that none of these may 
touch his serenity, that none of these may cast a 
shadow on his calm. For he himself is rooted where 
storms are not, he himself is grounded where changes 
have no place, and while he may feel, he can never be 
altered by them ; they take their right place in life, 
they bear their proper proportion to the whole span of 



92 IN THE OUTER COURT. 

existence of the Soul. That indifference, that true and 
real indifference which means strength, how shall that 
develop ? 

First, by this daily thinking on what it means, and 
working it out bit by bit until you thoroughly under 
stand it, and working out detail after detail, so that you 
know exactly what you mean by it. And then when 
you go out into the world of men, by practising it in 
your daily life ; practising, not by hardening yourself but 
by making yourself responsive, not by making round 
yourself a shell that throws everything off, but by 
making yourself answer to everything that comes from 
without ; at the same time keeping an inner balance 
which refuses to vary while the change is felt right 
through. A hard and a difficult lesson, but a lesson 
that has so much in it of hope and of joy and of keener 
and more vivid life, that if that were all it were worth 
while to practise it. For, as the Soul feels itself grow 
ing too strong to be shaken, and yet feels every thrill 
that comes from without, it has a sense of wider life, it 
has a sense of fuller harmony, it has a sense of ever- 
increasing consciousness, of ever-growing oneness with 
that of which it is part. And as the feeling of isolation 
gradually melts away there flows into it the joy which 
dwells at the heart of things, and even that which to 
the ordinary man is painful loses to the disciple its 
quality of pain ; for he feels it, as it were, as part of 
the Universal Life, as a syllable which is spoken out of 
this vast language of Manifestation, and he can learn 



THE BUILDING OF CHARACTER. g3 

its meaning without any agony at his own heart, for the 
peace which grows out of this widening knowledge far 
overbears to him, and changes as it were his attitude 
towards everything in the outer world which men 
know as pain and loss. Thus thinking and thus prac 
tising, you will find this sense grow within you, this 
sense of calm and of strength and of serenity, so that 
you will feel as though you were in a place of peace, 
no matter what the storm in the outer world, and you 
will see and feel the storm and yet not be shaken by it. 
This peace is the first-fruits of the Spiritual Life, which 
shows itself first in this sense of peace and then in 
that of joy, and makes the life of the disciple a growth 
which is ever upwards and inwards to the heart which 
is Love. And out of this there grows the sense of 
self-control, that the Self within is stronger than the 
changes without, and while it is willing to respond, it 
refuses to be altered by the contacts from without. 
And then from the self-control and from the indifference 
there comes that power of hating none, on which so 
much stress is laid in all the building of character laid 
down for the aspirant who would become the disciple. 
Nothing is to be hated, everything is to be brought 
within the circle of Love, no matter how outwardly 
repulsive, no matter how outwardly antagonistic, no 
matter how outwardly repugnant ; the heart of all is 
Life and Love, and therefore this aspirant who is 
learning his lessons can shut nothing out from the 
circle of compassion ; everything is taken within it 



Q4 IN THE OUTER COURT. 

according to its own power of feeling, and he is the 
friend of every living thing, the lover of all that lives 
and feels. 

And as he is thus building these stones into his 
character he becomes fearless ; fearless, because hating 
nothing there is nothing that has power to harm. 
Injury from without is but the reaction of aggression 
from within ; because we are the enemies of others they 
in their turn are our enemies, and because we go out 
into the world as injurers, therefore living things injure 
us in turn. We, who ought to be the lovers of all 
living things, go out as destroyers, as tyrants, as 
haters, grasping the world for tyranny and not for 
education, as though man s work here were not to 
educate his younger brethren and lead them upwards 
by all tenderness and all compassion ; we go out and 
we tyrannise over others, whether they be human or 
brute, so long as they are weaker than ourselves ; 
and by their weakness we too often measure our 
tyranny, and by their helplessness too often the 
burden that we lay upon them. And then we 
wonder that living things fly from us that as we 
go out into the world we are met with dread from 
the weak, and with hatred from the strong; and we 
know not in our blindness that all the hatred from the 
outer world is the reflection of the evil that is in our 
selves, and that to the heart of love there is nothing 
that is hateful, and therefore nothing that can injure. 
The man that has love can walk unharmed through the 



THE BUILDING OF CHARACTER. 95 

jungle, can walk untouched through the cave of the 
carnivorous brute, or take in his hands the serpent ; for 
there is nothing that has message of hate to the heart 
that has in it only love, and the love that radiates to the 
world around us, that draws all things in to serve and 
not to injure, draws all things in to love and not to hate. 
And so at the feet of the Yogi the tiger will roll in 
friendship, and so to the feet of the saint the wildest 
will bring their young for shelter and for helping, and 
all living things will come to the man who loves, for 
they are all the offspring of the Divine, and the Divine 
is Love, and when that is made perfect in man it draws 
all things inwards to itself. So then we learn gradually 
and slowly to walk fearlessly in the world, fearlessly 
even though things may still injure ; for we know if we are 
hurt that we are only paying the debt of an evil past, and 
that for every debt that is paid there is less against us, 
as it were, in the account book of Nature. And fearless 
too, because we learn to know, and fear springs from 
doubt as well as from hatred ; the man who knows has 
passed beyond doubt, and walks with foot unfearing where 
it may tread, for it treads on solid ground alone, and there 
are no pitfalls in its way. And out of this grows a firm 
and unshaken will, a will that is based on knowledge, 
and a will that grows confident through love. And as 
the aspirant is crossing the Court of the Outer Temple, 
his step becomes firmer, and his course becomes more 
direct, unshaken in its purpose and growing in its 
strength ; his character begins to show itself out in 



96 IN THE OUTER COURT. 

definite outline, clear, distinct, and firm, the Soul grow 
ing onwards to maturity. 

And then comes the absence of desire, the gradual 
getting rid of all those desires that tie us to the lower 
world, the gradual working out of all those longings 
which in the lives that lie behind us we found had no 
satisfaction for the Soul, the gradual casting aside of all 
the fetters that tie us down to earth, the gradual elimi 
nation of the personal desire, and the self-identification 
with the whole. For this one who is growing is not 
going to be tied to rebirth by any bonds that belong to the 
earth ; men come back to the earth because they are 
held there, tied by these links of desire that bind them 
to the wheel of births and of deaths ; but this man we 
are studying is going to be free ; this man who is 
going to be free must break these links of desire for 
himself; there is only one thing that will bind him, only 
one thing that will draw him back to birth, and that is 
the love of his fellows, the desire of service. He is 
not bound to the wheel, for he is free, but he may come 
back and turn the wheel once more for the sake of 
those who still are bound upon it, and whom he will 
stand beside until the bonds of all Souls are broken. In 
his freeing he breaks the bonds of compulsion, and so 
he learns a perfect unselfishness, learns that what is 
good for all is that which he is seeking, and that what 
serves the All is that which alone he desires to achieve. 
And then he learns self-reliance ; this one who is growing 
towards the Light, learns to be strong in order that he 



THE BUILDING OF CHARACTER. 97 

may help, learns to rely upon the Self which is the Self 
of all, with which he is growing to identify himself. 

There is a thing that he has to face, upon which I must 
say a word, for it is perchance one of the hardest of his 
trials while he is working in this Outer Court. When 
he entered that Court, knowing and seeing the mighty 
joy beyond, he turned his back on much that makes life 
glad to his fellows ; but there is a time that comes 
sometimes, there is a time that now and then descends 
upon the Soul, when, as it were, he has sprung outwards 
into a void where no hand seems to grasp his own, and 
where there is darkness around him, and nothing on 
which his feet may rest. There are times which come 
in these stages of the Soul s growth when there is 
nothing left on earth which can satisfy, there is nothing 
left on earth which can fill, when the friendships of old 
have lost some of their touch, and the delights of earth 
have lost all their savour, when the hands in front, 
though they are holding us, are not yet felt, when the 
rock beneath our feet, though our feet are planted upon 
it, is not yet understood as changeless and immovable, 
when by the veil of illusion the Soul is covered thickly, 
and it thinks itself forsaken and knows nothing of help 
that it can find. It is the void into which every as 
pirant in turn has plunged ; it is the void that every 
disciple has crossed. When it yawns before the Soul, 
the Soul draws back ; when it opens up dark and 
seemingly bottomless, he who stands upon the brink 
shrinks back in fear ; and yet he need not fear. Plunge 



98 IN THE OUTER COURT. 

onwards into the void, and you shall find it full ! Spring 
forward into the darkness, and you shall find a rock 
beneath your feet ! Let go the hands that hold you 
back, and mightier Hands in front will clasp your 
own and draw you onwards, and they are Hands that 
will never leave you. The earthly grasp will some 
times loosen, the friend s hand will unclasp your own 
and leave it empty, but the Friends who are on the 
other side never let go, no matter how the world may 
change. Go out then boldly into the darkness and 
into the loneliness, and you shall find the loneliness 
is the uttermost of delusions, and the darkness is a 
light which none may lose again in life. That trial, 
once faced, is found again to be a great delusion ; and 
the disciple who dares to plunge finds himself on the 
other side. 

Thus the building of character goes on, and will go 
on for lives to come, nobler and nobler as each life is 
ended, mightier and mightier as each step is taken. 
These foundations which we have been laying are only 
the foundations of the building I have hinted at, and 
if the achievement seem mighty, it is because always 
in the mind of the architect the building is complete, 
and even when the ground plan is a-sketching, his 
imagination sees the completed edifice, and he knows 
whereto he builds. 

And the end ? Ah ! the ending of that building of 
character our tongues not yet can sketch ! No paint 
brush which is dipped only in earth s dull colours can 



THE BUILDING OF CHARACTER. gg 

limn anything of the beauty of that perfect ideal to 
wards which we hope to, nay, towards which we know 
we shall, eventually rise. Have you ever caught a 
glimpse of it in silent moments ? Have you ever 
seen a reflection of it when the earth was still and 
when the heaven was calm ? Have you ever had a 
glimpse of those Divine Faces that live and move 
Those that were men and now are more than men, 
superhuman in Their grandeur ; man as he shall be 
though not as he is, save in the innermost Courts of 
the Temple ? If you have ever caught a glimpse in 
your stillest moments, then you need no words of mine 
to tell you ; you know of the compassion which at first 
seems the whole of the being, so radiant in its perfec 
tion, so glorious in its divinity ; the tenderness which 
is so mighty that it can stoop to the lowest as well as 
transcend the highest, which recognises the feeblest 
effort, as well as the mightiest achievement ; nay, which 
is tenderer to the feeble than to the mighty, because 
the feeble most needs the helping of the sympathy 
which never changes ; the love which only seems not to 
be divine because it is so absolutely human, and in 
which we realise that man and God are one. And 
then beyond the tenderness, the strength the strength 
that nothing can change, the strength which has in it 
the quality of the foundations of the Universe, on which 
all worlds might build, and yet it would not shake, 
strength so infinite joined with compassion so bound 
less. How can these qualities be in one Being and 



IOO IN THE OUTER COURT. 

harmonise with such absolute perfection ? And then 
the radiance of the joy the joy that has conquered, 
the joy that would have all others share its beatitude, 
the radiant sunshine that knows no shadow, the glory 
of the conquest which tells that all shall win, the joy in 
the eyes that see beyond the sorrow, and that even in 
looking at pain know that the end is peace. Tender 
ness and strength and joy and uttermost peace peace 
without a ruffle, serenity that naught can touch : such 
is the glimpse which you may have caught of the 
Divine, such is the glimpse of the ideal that one day 
we shall become. And if we dare to raise our eyes so 
high, it is because Their Feet still tread the earth 
where our feet are treading. They have risen high 
above us ; none the less stand They beside Their- 
brothers, and if They transcend us it is not that They 
have left us, although on every side They are beyond 
us ; for all humanity dwells in the heart of the Master, 
and where humanity is, we, its children, may dare to 
realise we dwell. 



SPIRITUAL ALCHEMY. 



LECTURE IV. 



Spiritual 



Now during the last three lectures we have been con 
sidering the stages, carried on as we saw simultaneously, 
by which the aspirant for entrance into the Temple is 
gradually purifying himself, is bringing his thoughts 
under control, is building up his character, or perhaps 
I should be more accurate in saying, is building its 
foundations. These are the three stages that we have 
considered, and we have seen that any one who has thus 
entered the Outer Court and has set before himself the 
great task for achievement, will take up these different 
efforts not so much one after the other, as one beside the 
other, and will gradually try to bring his whole nature 
under control, and to direct it towards the achievement 
of the object which he has set himself to attain. 

Let us suppose then, taking these successively, as we 
are obliged to do for clearness sake, let us suppose 
that our candidate now turns to the consideration of 
another part of his great task. I have described this 
part of it as Spiritual Alchemy ; and I had in mind, in 



104 IN THE OUTER COURT. 

the use of that phrase, a process of change, a process of 
transmutation, the allusion of course being to that work 
of the alchemist whereby he changed the baser metal 
into the nobler, whereby he changed, say, the copper into 
the gold. And I have in my thought a process which 
goes on in the world around us, to some extent I should 
imagine in the mind and in the life of every thoughtful 
and religious person, but which with our candidate 
becomes, as I have so often repeated, a self-conscious 
and deliberate process, so that he recognises his method 
and his end and turns himself deliberately to the achieve 
ment of that which he desires. Now this process of 
spiritual alchemy spoken of, may be regarded, I think, in 
the most general sense of the term, as a transmutation 
of forces. Each man has in himself life and energy and 
vigour, power of will and so on ; these are the forces 
with which he is to work, these are the energies by 
which his object is to be attained. By a process which 
may fairly be described as alchemical he transmutes 
these forces from lower ends to higher, he transmutes 
them from gross energies to energies that are refined 
and spiritualised. It is not only that he changes their 
object, nor is the change of object the point to which my 
own mind is directed in this phrase ; it is rather that he 
changes and purifies them without as it were altering 
their essential nature, just as the alchemist, taking this 
grosser matter, really passed it through a process of 
purification ; not the mere purging away of dross, but a 
purification that went much farther, that took the very 



SPIRITUAL ALCHEMY. 105 

metal itself, that reduced it into a finer and rarer state, 
and then, as it were, recombined it into a nobler and 
sublimer type. So that you may imagine the spiritual 
alchemist as taking all these forces of his nature, recog 
nising them as forces, and therefore as useful and neces 
sary, but deliberately changing, purifying and refining 
them. We are concerned with the method of refining, 
with the way in which this work may be carried 
out. 

The object of this spiritual alchemy is not only this 
transmutation of the forces, though that is its essential 
part, but there is a subsidiary side to it which one can 
not leave out of account. Souls are bound to earth-life, 
to the wheel of births and of deaths, by desires ; they 
are held there by ignorance, they are fettered by their 
longings after material enjoyments, after separated and 
isolated joys as it were. Continually engaged in actions, 
these actions bind the Soul, whether they be in 
themselves good or bad, whether they be in themselves 
helpful or mischievous ; none the less as actions they 
have this characteristic that action in the ordinary 
man springs from desire, and that this desire is the 
binding and the fettering force. Actions must continue 
to be accomplished as long as man remains in the world ; 
actions are needful to be done else manifestation would 
no longer be. As a man grows nobler and wiser and 
stronger, his action becomes an ever more and more 
important factor in the world s progress. And supposing 
the greatest should abstain from action, then the progress 



106 IN THE OUTER COURT. 

of the race must necessarily be delayed, its evolution 
must inevitably be retarded. 

How then shall it be possible that action shall be 
accomplished and yet the Soul be free ? How is it 
possible that action shall be rendered, and yet the Soul 
shall not thereby be bound and fettered ? Here again 
we shall find a case of spiritual alchemy, whereby the 
greatest may be the most active in service and yet his 
service shall touch him not as a liberated Soul, and 
you have exemplified what seems a paradox a service 
which is perfect freedom. Now the phrase " spiritual 
alchemy " taken as a means to such freedom is only a 
way of alluding to the fundamental Law of Sacrifice, 
that great Law which in the manifested universe lies 
at the root of all and is constantly expressing itself, 
whose forms are so various that it is easy to mistake 
them, whose action is so complicated that it is easy to 
blunder. Easiest of all, perhaps, to blunder in expres 
sion ; for you are dealing with a many-sided truth that 
is seen in many aspects by the minds of men ; that 
above all has in fact a double aspect as it is contem 
plated from above or from below ; that is a Law which 
permeates the universe, to which every atom may be 
said to be subject, and which is, in the fullest sense of 
the term, the expression of the Divine Life in mani 
festation. In touching such a Law at all there are 
endless opportunities for blundering blundering on the 
part of the speaker in expression, blundering on the 
part of the hearers in grasping the thought which is 



SPIRITUAL ALCHEMY. IOJ 

imperfectly given ; so that in dealing with this, one is 
apt to be one-sided according to the view which at the 
moment is most before the mind ; according as the 
aspect, we may say, expresses itself on the side of 
Matter, or expresses itself on the side of Spirit ; accord 
ing as we take a standpoint without looking inwards, 
or a standpoint within looking outwards. In dealing 
with a mighty subject where no one word expresses the 
thought, and where the grasping of the thought itself is 
difficult to those so undeveloped as ourselves, it is, as I 
say, most difficult for speaker and for hearer alike to 
avoid misconception, to avoid laying too much stress on 
one side or the other, and so losing that even balance 
from which truth alone can be perfectly expressed. 
And with regard to the Law of Sacrifice, this perhaps 
is especially the case. 

Let us take it first in its lower aspect, an aspect 
which must not be overlooked for it has for us many 
lessons but that which is distinctly the lower aspect 
of it in all the worlds. Let us take it as we find it 
expressed in manifested Nature, as impressed on the 
Kosmos, working in the physical, the astral, the mental 
worlds, and so on ; including a certain relationship be 
tween all living things, including a certain relationship 
not only between living things as we all know them down 
here, but including other living beings in the worlds 
which surround us ; and let us stop on this lower aspect 
for a moment ere we venture to rise towards the higher, 
for here also we shall find a most useful lesson, a most 



108 IN THE OUTER COURT. 

luminous suggestion for our helping in this process of 
the Outer Court. 

Regarding sacrifice in the lower worlds, it may pre 
sent itself to us not unfitly as a process of mutual 
service or exchange, a continual turning of the wheel 
of life, in which each living being takes and gives, in 
which he cannot avoid the taking, "in which he ought 
not to refuse the giving. So that you will see sacrifice, 
if you look at it for a moment in what I have called its 
lower aspect, as a continual turning of the wheel of life, 
in which all things take conscious or unconscious part, 
and the more highly they are developed the more con 
scious will be their co-operation. This view of sacrifice 
has been put clearly, perhaps more clearly almost than 
anywhere else, in The Lord s Song, one of the Indian 
Scriptures, where this wheel of life is dealt with, and 
where you find sacrifice and action connected in a way 
which it is well to realise. Says the great Teacher : 

The world is bound by all action, by action with sacrifice 
for object ; with such object, free from attachment, O son of 
Kunti, perform thou action. 

And then, going backwards into the past in order to 
make this cycle which is sacrifice by mutual service 
complete, the Teacher says that : 

Having in ancient times emanated mankind by sacrifice, 
the Lord of Emanation said : " By this shall ye propagate ; 
be this to you the Kdmaduk (that is, the milk of desire) ; 
with this nourish ye the Gods, and may the Gods nourish 
you ; thus nourishing one another, ye shall reap the supremest 



SPIRITUAL ALCHEMY. IOQ 

good. For, nourished by sacrifice, the Gods shall bestow on 
you the enjoyment you desire." A thief verily is he, who 
enjoyeth what is given by Them, without returning the gift. 
. . . From food creatures become ; from rain is the pro 
duction of food ; rain proceedeth from sacrifice ; sacrifice 
arises out of action. Know thou from Brahma action 
groweth and Brahma from the Imperishable cometh. 
Therefore Brahman, the all-permeating, is ever present in 
sacrifice. He who on earth doth not follow the wheel thus 
revolving, sinful of life, and rejoicing in the senses, he, O 
son of Pritha, liveth in vain.* 

Now you have there this wheel of life which lies 
at the root of sacrifice in all religions, and the purer 
and the nobler the religion, the purer and nobler will be 
the idea of sacrifice which pervades it. Notice how 
thoroughly there is carried out this alchemical idea, the 
changing always of one into the other ; the food changes 
into beings, but in order that food might be, the rain 
had been changed into food ; in order that the rain might 
fall, sacrifice had been offered to the Gods. Then the 
Gods nourish. You will find this turning of the wheel 
everywhere prominent in these ancient religions. The 
Brahman, for instance, will cast into the fire his sacrifice, 
for, it is said, fire, Agni, is the mouth of the Gods ; and 
the throwing of that sacrifice into the fire in ancient 
days, accompanied, as it wa s, with Mantras made by men 
who knew what they were making, and made the 
Mantra as words of power over the lower forces in 

* Bhagavad Gitd, iii., 9-16. 



110 IN THE OUTER COURT. 

Nature, that sacrifice thus performed regulated many 
of these forces in Nature, which working upon the earth 
bring forth food for men. Although the action was in 
itself a symbol, that which it symbolised was real, and 
the force that went forth from the lips of the purified 
teacher and the man of power was real also. The 
symbol was meant to teach the people about this wheel of 
life, to make them understand that action is essentially 
sacrifice, and that all action should be of the nature of 
sacrifice ; that is, that action should be done as duty, 
that it should be done because it is right and with no 
other object, that it should be done in order that man 
may be in harmony with law, that it should be done 
because that is his answer to the law, his part of the 
common task. So that under this teaching sacrifice 
was the bond of union, the golden thread that linked 
together all beings in this manifested universe ; and as 
the root of sacrifice was action, as action came from the 
manifesting God, and as He was that which manifested, 
so it was said that Brahman permeated every sacrifice, 
and all action that was done could thus be done as 
duty in the world, not with desire for individual fruit, 
not with desire for personal gain, not with wish to obtain 
something for the personal self there comes in the 
lower, the debased, the selfish view with which sacrifices 
were later done. As part of the turning of the wheel, 
as part of the accomplishment of duty for duty s sake, 
there is the very essence of the alchemy which, changing 
action into sacrifice, bums up the bonds of desire, and 



SPIRITUAL ALCHEMY. Ill 

liberates the wise. Thus burned in the fire of wisdom, 
action loses all its binding force upon the Soul ; the 
Soul becomes a fellow-worker with the divine in Nature, 
and every action that is cast upon the altar of duty 
becomes a force which turns the wheel of life but never 
binds the Soul. 

That, then this constant exchange, this mutual service 
that is one form of the great Law of Sacrifice, and 
the change which is produced is of this nature, that 
where the action is done as duty, it becomes part of the 
universal harmony, distinctly helps forward evolution, 
distinctly helps in the raising of the race. The work of 
our aspirant in the Outer Court is gradually to train 
himself to perform all action in this sacrificial way, 
realising that he is thus performing it, asking for nothing, 
seeking for nothing, looking for no fruit, demanding no 
reward, doing it because it ought to be done, and for no 
other reason. Who does that, he is indeed performing 
this work of spiritual alchemy by which all action is 
purified in the fire of wisdom ; he is in conscious 
harmony with the divine will in the manifested universe, 
and so becomes a force for evolution, so becomes an 
energy for progress, and the whole race then benefits 
by the action which otherwise would only have brought 
to the sacrificer a personal fruit, which in its turn would 
have bound his Soul, and limited his potentialities for 
good. Thus then we may regard this law of sacrifice as 
working, when regarded in its lower aspect. 

Let us come on now to the higher, to the sublimer 




, 

.4PnA -frxt^ 



112 IN THE OUTER COURT. 

view, and in order that we may gain this without mis 
conception, I will try to do it the more carefully, and 
dwell upon it the more fully, because I see how easily 
mistake may arise out of a partial presentment, for 
which I myself am responsible. I want to-night to 
delay a moment on the essence of sacrifice, and try to 
realise what sacrifice really means. It seems to me, and 
this is the thought with which I will ask you to begin, 
that sacrifice regarded in its innermost essence re 
garded from the standpoint in which we shall all regard 
it more and more as we rise towards the diviner life 
sacrifice is a giving or a pouring forth ; it is 
motived by the desire to give, its essence is in the 
longing to pour forth something which is possessed, and 
which, being precious to the possessor, he desires to 
pour out for the helping and joy of others. So that the 
way to regard sacrifice, looked at from the inner side 
rather than from the outer, is that it is an act of gift, 
a pouring forth of the nature for the purpose of con 
ferring happiness on others, and therefore it is in its 
essence joyous and not grievous, the gift itself being 
the very heart of the sacrificial action. Putting aside 
everything which may take place for the time in the 
making of the sacrifice we will consider that presently 
looking at the sacrifice as sacrifice, it is gift ; and it 
is offered by a nature which desires to give, a nature 
which longs to pour itself forth, which would fain share 
with others all that it has of bliss, and which is motived 
by this one longing to pour itself forth into others, so that 



\$M Q 



SPIRITUAL ALCHEMY. 113 

they may be one with it in its joy. But, you may say, why 
in its joy ? Because I asked } r ou to come back to the 
very heart and the core of Manifestation. The supreme 
act of sacrifice, I ventured to say elsewhere, was that 
Self-limitation of the One Existence by which It put 
forth as Energy the manifested LOGOS. I find not 
unnaturally, perhaps, because in dealing with this in its 
working out in the universe, I dwelt unduly on one side 
of it that this view of sacrifice has been held to imply 
what seems to me a contradiction in terms : " the agony 
of the LOGOS ". But what is LOGOS ? Brahman in 
Manifestation ; and the nature of Brahman we have 
been told over and over again in the ancient Scriptures, 
which in turn have their root in knowledge still more 
ancient, the nature of Brahman is Bliss. No other 
thought is possible, if you try to think at all of that 
which is beyond manifestation. That Brahman is bliss 
has been the keynote of the most ancient Aryan religion. 
And as man rises towards Brahman, the very last 
sheath of the Soul is called the Sheath of Bliss. If you 
take the Raja Yoga of India, and if you study the 
vehicles - in which the Soul can manifest itself in the 
worlds, you will find that as it retires from the lower 
worlds, as it shakes off the lower sheaths, it casts aside 
the sheath of the body, and then the sheath of the 
subtle body, and then the sheath of desire, and then 
the sheath of mind ; you will find that as it goes 
upwards and upwards, ever approaching that Brahman 
which is itself, and becoming ever more and more its 



114 IN THE OUTER COURT. 

own essential nature, you will find that at the very end 
there is a sheath, the highest, so subtle that it scarcely 
differentiates it from the One and Only, the filmy, rare 
individuality which is necessary in order to keep the 
whole harvest of the ages which lie behind. And that 
sheath has a name, and they call it the Sheath of Bliss, 
as though they would remind every one who is strug 
gling in the world in the coils of ignorance, as though 
they would remind every one that this progress in Yoga, 
which is union with the Divine, is to be carried on from 
stage to stage until the Soul is enveloped in nothing 
but bliss, and then they say: " Brahman is Bliss". So 
that you realise, if you realise this great teaching at all, 
that there is not possible an act of sacrifice in that 
lofty region which can be aught but an act of joy, aught 
but an act of the giving forth of bliss, and the very 
essence of the thought however imperfectly I may 
have personally expressed the thought matters little 
is that from that Supreme Nature which is bliss the 
universe came forth, from this Self-limiting of Existence 
came the LOGOS that is Itself. And the very object 
of the Self-limitation was to pour forth the bliss which 
was Its own essential nature, so that when the cycle of 
existence should be completed, there should be many 
individuals, radiant and joyous, to share with it that 
perfect bliss, a bliss which should ever grow as they 
approach to Itself; there is misery only in the supposed 
distance from It, because of the ignorance in which the 
Soul is wrapped. 



SPIRITUAL ALCHEMY. 115 

Take then, if you please, that as the essential thought : 
that the Law of Sacrifice is based on the Divine 
Nature, that the supreme sacrifice by which the 
universe was emanated was this act of giving by the 
Nature which is bliss, and that, therefore, the object 
of the whole must essentially be this sharing or 
scattering of bliss, and that the root of the sacrifice is 
this joy in pouring forth to bring many into union with 
Itself, of which the end is to be the Peace which 
passeth all expression. Realising that, we shall be 
able to trace our Law of Sacrifice, and understand 
what I spoke of as the dual aspect : the aspect which 
in giving, is joy ; but, inasmuch as the lower nature is 
a nature which grasps rather than gives, which shows 
itself continually from the standpoint of the lower 
nature as a renouncing, which is pain. And if we 
study this a little more closely I think we shall be able 
to escape from any contradiction, and perhaps clarify 
our eyes when we are dwelling on this great mystery, 
as it has well been called, of the Law of Sacrifice. 
Let us realise that giving is the highest joy, because it 
is of the essence of the Divine Nature. Let us next 
realise that as man becomes himself, that is, as he 
becomes in his own self-consciousness divine, he 
will become more and more joyful in himself, more 
and more joy-giving to others. So that bliss must 
increase as the highest nature develops, and pain 
can arise only out of the friction in the lower, out 
of the struggle of the lower which is really the Self 






Il6 IN THE OUTER COURT. 

encumbered with ignorance and wrapped about with 
delusions. So that we shall find as we trace this on 
wards, that the use of pain is to get rid of ignorance ; 
that the whole process of growth and of evolution is 
this getting rid of ignorance ; and although that may 
be described, and is constantly experienced by us in 
our lower nature, as pain and trouble and conflict, yet 
in proportion as the true man within us develops, in 
proportion as he is consciously active, in proportion as 
he is able to translate himself into the lower nature, 
just in so far will he realise that the essence of all his 
efforts is to bring to the helping of a sorrowful world 
this manifestation of joy and peace; and he will gradu 
ally be able, as it were, to permeate the lower nature 
with his own conviction, as he gradually purifies it 
from ignorance and makes it realise the reality instead of 
the delusive appearance of things. 

How then, it may fairly be asked, has this idea of 
pain been taken so continually in connection with sacri 
fice ? Why have they been identified so much in thought 
that the very use of the word sacrifice conveys to the 
mind of a thinker or a reader the necessary idea of un- 
mingled agony ? It seems as though the root of mis 
conception lay in the lower nature : all its first activities 
are directed towards grasping, towards taking, towards 
holding for its own isolated and separated self; coming 
out into this world for the gathering of experience where 
the higher man is as yet not at all developed, where his 
influence over the lower he himself being so inchoate 



SPIRITUAL ALCHEMY. 1 17 

is of the slightest possible kind, you will have this 
lower nature plunging about in the world of sensation, 
grasping here and there at everything that seems at 
tractive, ignorant of the nature of things, ignorant of 
the result of things, simply led away by outer appear 
ance, and unknowing of what may lie hidden beneath 
this delusive surface. So that these early and long- 
continued experiences of the lower nature will be a 
constant grasping after apparent delights, and a constant 
finding that they are less satisfactory than had been 
imagined ; and you may remember that once I worked 
out for you carefully this meaning and use of pain in 
its gradual teaching to man of the nature of law, and 
of the transitory nature of the desires of the senses, of 
the gratifications of the animal nature. In this way 
pain leads to knowledge, as also pleasure leads to 
knowledge ; and experiencing these two sides of mani 
fested nature the Soul gathers a little knowledge of 
the underlying reality of things. Gathering thus the 
experience which may be, and often is, painful in the 
gathering, it transmutes its experience into knowledge, 
changes this, knowledge into wisdom, which then it 
takes as its guide; as the knowledge accumulates 
which is held by the real man, this growing self is 
beginning to realise what it is ; as it transmutes it into 
wisdom, the wisdom is ever a source of pure and un 
adulterated joy. This growing wisdom ever means an 
increasing vision, an increasing serenity, and an 
increasing strength. So that to it, that which to the 



Il8 IN THE OUTER COURT. 

lower nature is painful, is not unwelcome as bringing 
with it experience; where some eagerly grasped gratifi 
cation is found to bring disappointment and weariness 
to the true man, he changes that experience into wis 
dom ; so that from this standpoint even pain has its 
joyous side, for he sees in the experience not the transi 
tory pain of the lower nature, but the gain of know 
ledge to the higher, and he realises that all these 
experiences mean his own growth in knowledge and in 
power ; he chooses them with a deliberate joy in the 
choosing, because he sees the end of the working, and 
the gold that comes out of the fire. 

But supposing we take the human being, blinded 
with ignorance, in the lower world ; suppose we find 
him learning these lessons which nature is continually 
teaching, lessons which are stern and painful ; suppose 
we see him seeking animal gratification, careless of 
the loss inflicted upon others, careless of the suffering 
which results to those around him, plunging over 
others in order to grasp for himself some object of 
desire ; then certainly when he finds it fall to pieces in 
his grasp, his first feeling will be one of acute pain, 
of intense disappointment, a sense of weariness and of 
disgust. And so, looked at from his standpoint, the 
experience is a truly painful one, although from that 
higher standpoint it is one that was well worth the 
gathering, because of the wisdom which it brings, the 
deeper insight into nature, and the surer knowledge of 
law. But it is far more than that. The lower and the 



SPIRITUAL ALCHEMY. IIQ 

higher find themselves in conflict ; the higher wills a 
certain achievement ; through the lower it has to work ; 
the lower understands not the aim of the higher, 
realises not the object which the higher sees; without 
that co-operation of the lower the object of the higher 
cannot be accomplished, and so there is this struggle 
with the lower nature, sometimes to force it forwards, 
sometimes to hold it back, and the whole of this, to the 
lower nature still wrapped in ignorance, results as a 
feeling of restraint, a feeling of enforced giving up of 
what it desires to have ; but slowly there comes into 
that lower nature, as the higher works upon it more 
effectually, an understanding that it is well that this 
thing should be done, that although there may be pain 
in the doing, the gain is well worth the suffering, 
and that this overcoming of difficulty by effort, while 
the effort in itself is painful, still results in so much 
gain of strength that the mere passing pain of the 
effort is lost in the joy of the achieving. Thus as the 
Soul is developed, there will be, even so far as the 
lower nature is concerned, this double working in the in 
tellect, in the mind of man, in which he will deliber 
ately choose a thing which is difficult to achieve because 
he realises it as supremely desirable ; yet he cannot 
gain it without sacrificing some lower desires, and he 
sacrifices them and burns them up, as it were, in the 
fire of knowledge. He then finds that as he does it he 
burns up limitations that held him down, that he burns 
up weaknesses that held him back, and that the touch 



I2O IN THE OUTER COURT. 

of the fire, which seemed at first painful, is really 
nothing more than the burning of these chains that 
held him. Then he joyfully takes the freedom, and as 
the experience is repeated, he realises more and more 
the freedom, and less and less the suffering by which 
the freedom is gained. So that from that inner stand 
point once more this suffering is changed into joy, 
for here again is the divine alchemy, and he sees 
that in this pouring forth of the Higher into the 
lower the Higher is bringing the lower to share its 
joy and to feel more of its permanent and increasing 
bliss. And when the Soul is approaching the gate 
way of the Temple, when this process is to a great 
extent understood, the Soul will begin to see that all 
this is really a process of getting rid of limitations, 
and that the whole of the suffering is in these limita 
tions, which prevent it from realising its oneness with 
its brothers as well as its oneness with the Divine. As 
this is understood, and the pouring forth of the Divine 
Nature, which is the true man, expresses itself, it will 
constantly be felt that by the bursting of the limita 
tion this diviner joy is found, and that the pain after 
all is again a question of separation, that the separation 
has its root in ignorance, and that with the destruction 
of ignorance there is also the ceasing of pain. And not 
only that, but as this limitation is felt to be illusory, as 
this limitation is seen as apparent and not real, and 
as having no part in the world where the true 
man is living, then he will begin deliberately to 



SPIRITUAL ALCHEMY. 121 

transmute these faculties of the lower nature, and by 
this alchemical process refine them in the way at which 
I have hinted in the beginning. 

Let us take one or two cases, and see how that might be. 
Let us take first what is one of the great sources of pain 
in the lower world the seeking of pleasure for the personal 
self, without regard to the wishes or the feelings of others ; 
the desire to enjoy in separation, the desire to enjoy in a 
little circle which is fenced from the whole world out 
side, and is kept for this limited enjoyment of the lower 
self. That pleasure-seeking instinct, as it is sometimes 
called, how shall the Soul deal with that ? Has it any 
thing in it that may be changed in the fire? The 
pleasure-seeking which always ends in suffering may be 
changed into a joy-spreading faculty, in which all shall 
share that which the one has gained. The Soul finds 
that it can carry on this transmutation by gradually 
seeking to eliminate the element of separateness from 
this pleasure-seeking outgoing, by constantly trying to 
get rid of this desire to exclude, by knocking down the 
little wall of ignorance raised round itself in these lower 
worlds in which it is manifesting, by burning up that 
lower wall so that it shall no longer divide itself from its 
other selves, so that when a pleasure is thought of and 
gained the self pours itself out amongst all its brethren, 
and carries to them the happiness that it has found. 
But still in truth it finds joy in seeking obedience ; for in 
a world where all is law, harmony with it must always 
bring peace and happiness, and the very presence of the 



122 IN THE OUTER COURT. 

discord is the showing of a disharmony with the law. 
But this Soul which is growing, when it finds that it 
has gained some spiritual power, when it finds that it 
has gained some spiritual knowledge, when it finds that 
it has gained some spiritual truth, will train itself to 
feel that the joy of possession lies really in the act of 
giving, not in the act of gaining, and that what it needs 
to do is to break down all these walls that it once made 
round itself in the days of its ignorance, and let the joy 
spread out over the whole world of men and of things. 
And thus the pleasure-seeking instinct may be trans 
muted into the joy-giving power, and that which once 
sought pleasure in isolation shall realise that joy is 
only found in sharing, and that nothing is worth having 
save that which is possessed in giving. And the joy of 
the giving is really the essential sacrifice, the pouring 
out to all of that which otherwise would become en 
tirely worthless as being contained within a separated 
self. 

Take another case for this same spiritual alchemy 
the love which is selfish. Now here we have something 
higher than a pleasure-seeking instinct ; for the very 
word love at least implies some giving to another, else 
were it not love at all ; but it may still be a very selfish 
love, a love which is always seeking to get instead of to 
give, a love which is trying how much it can obtain 
from the objects of its love, instead of how much it can 
give to them, a love which just because it seeks to gain 
is sure to show forth the unlovely attributes of exclu- 



SPIRITUAL ALCHEMY. 123 

siveness, of jealousy, of the desire to keep others outside, 
of the desire to have the beloved object for itself, and as 
it were to roof in the sun and keep it shining only in its 
own dwelling, none other benefiting from its rays. But 
a love that is selfish, how shall it be changed ? Not by 
diminishing the love ; that is the blunder that some men 
make ; not by chilling it down and making it colder and 
harder as it were, if love could ever be cold and hard ; 
but by encouraging the love and deliberately trying to 
eliminate these elements which degrade it ; by watch 
ing the lower self, and when it begins to build a little 
wall of exclusion, knocking that wall down ; when it 
desires to keep that which is so precious and so admir 
able, then at once trying to share with its neighbour ; 
when it tries to draw the loved one from others, rather 
to give him out that he may be shared by others. The 
Soul must realise that what is beautiful and joy-giving 
should be given to all in order that they too may have 
the happiness which the one is receiving from the object 
which is beloved, so that all these grosser elements 
shall gradually disappear. When the feeling of selfish 
ness arises, it shall deliberately be put aside ; when the 
feeling of jealousy expresses itself, it shall at once be 
put an end to ; so that where the feeling was " Let us 
keep alone and enjoy," it shall be changed into " Let us 
go forth into the world together to give and share with 
others the joy that together we have found ". So that 
by this process of alchemy, the love will become divine 
compassion, and will spread itself over all the world of 



I2 4 



IN THE OUTER COURT. 



men ; so that which found its joy in receiving from the 
beloved, will find its delight in pouring forth to all that 
which it has found. And this love which once was 
selfish, which once perhaps was the love between one 
man and one woman, and then widened out into the 
circle of the home, and then widened out still further 
into the life of the community, and then widened out 
into the life of the nation, and then into the life of the 
race, shall finally widen out to include everything that 
lives in a universe where there is naught that lives not ; 
and it shall have lost nothing in its depth, nothing in its 
warmth, nothing in its intensity, nothing in its fervour, 
but it shall have spread over the Universe instead of being 
concentrated on a single heart, and shall have become 
that ocean of compassion which includes everything 
which feels and lives. Such would be, with regard to 
love, this alchemy of the Soul. 

And thus you might take quality after quality of the 
lower nature, and trace it out as I have traced these 
two, and you will see that the whole of the process is 
essentially a getting rid of the separateness, a burning 
up of that by deliberate will and deliberate knowledge 
and understanding, and that the whole of the process is 
a joy to the true, the real man, however much the lower 
man may sometimes in his blindness fail to understand. 
And when once that is knovvn, then that which was pain 
loses its aspect of pain, and becomes a joy, and even in 
the absolute sensation of what otherwise would have 
been pain, the joy overbears and changes the suffering, 



SPIRITUAL ALCHEMY. 



125 



because the Soul sees, and the lower nature begins to 
understand, the end and the object of the work. 

And thus tracing this subject we shall realise that 
there is yet another way in which this transmutation 
may occur ; that as this fire of wisdom and of love, which 
is the Divine Nature in man, comes forth into the lower 
nature more and more, burning up these limitations 
that I have spoken of, and transmuting it into its own 
likeness, there is also a liberation of spiritual energy, a 
liberation of spiritual power ; this Self which is thus 
manifested in the lower man is able to put forth energies 
and powers which seem in some strange way to be the 
outcome of the process that we have been tracing, an 
alchemy in Nature by which as this Soul, with its 
fire of love and of wisdom, becomes manifest in the 
world of men in the very manifestation it seems to 
liberate energy, in the very burning up of the lower it 
sets free subtle forces of the higher ; so that the result 
of the burning is the liberation of the spiritual life, the 
setting free of that which was bound and could not 
manifest itself, but which, when this outer film shall be 
burned up, is freed for work in the world. We come 
dimly to understand, as the Soul is rising on to higher 
planes, and realising its identity with all and the oneness 
of all, we begin dimly to see the outline of a great truth : 
that it is able by virtue of its oneness with other Souls 
to share with them and to help them in many ways, and 
that it is able to surrender and feel joy in the surrender 
of that which it might have had for itself, but which, 



126 IN THE OUTER COURT. 

having identified itself with all, it must needs give to the 
world. And so what might be called the prize of spirit 
ual achievements the possibilities of spiritual rest, and 
spiritual bliss, and spiritual growth, which could not be 
shared with others may be surrendered by this Soul as 
a joyful act, which is for it a necessity of its own nature, 
in order that all it surrenders may become common 
property, and spread through the race of men to help 
forward their evolution. And so we hear of disciples 
who give up Devachan, and we hear of Adepts who 
give up Nirvana, and we realise dimly that what it 
means is that these are reaching a point of self-iden 
tification with their brothers which makes it a divine 
necessity for them to share with others that which 
they have gained ; that the true reward for them does 
not lie in the bliss of Devachan or in the unimaginable 
beatitude of Nirvana, but that the only joy they care to 
take is the throwing of all that is theirs, all that which 
they might have enjoyed, into the common stock, thus 
helping forward the common evolution, the lifting up 
ward a little of the race of which they are a part. 

And then we catch a glimpse also of another truth, 
of the way in which this help may sometimes be given ; 
and we see that when a man is weighed down under 
suffering that he has made for himself, and when in the 
great sweep of the law which may never be broken, 
there fall upon a human Soul pain and suffering, of 
which he himself has been in the past the sower and 
the cause that when that suffering comes upon him, it 



SPIRITUAL ALCHEMY. 127 

is possible for one who knows no separation, who realises 
that he and this suffering Soul are one on the plane of 
Reality not to take the inevitable result upon himself, 
leaving him who had sown the seed to escape reaping 
the harvest, but to stand, as it were, beside him in the 
reaping, and to breathe strength and energy into his 
Soul ; thus, while the burden is borne by the one who 
made it, and the harvest is reaped by the one who sowed 
it, there is still, as it were, thrown into that Soul a new 
strength, and a new life, and a new understanding, 
which make it possible for him to fulfil his task, which 
change not the task but the attitude of the Soul in the 
doing it ; which change not the burden but the strength 
of the Soul which lifts it ; and one of the greatest joys, 
one of the highest rewards which can come to the Soul 
which is growing, and which is asking nothing for itself 
save the power of service, comes, when it sees a weaker 
Soul that is being crushed because it is weak, and finds 
that it can breathe into that Soul some breath of divine 
courage and of relief, and of the understanding that 
will give hope and the power to bear. The help which 
is given is the strengthening of the brother-Soul to 
accomplish ; not the setting free that Soul from a 
burden which it has made, and which for its own sake 
it should bear, but a breathing into it of that power 
which grows out of an understanding of the nature of 
things, and which really for it also changes the pain of 
the suffered penalty into the quiet endurance of a 
well-deserved pain which teaches its own lesson. A 



128 IN THE OUTER COURT. 

Soul thus aided becomes joyous even while bearing the 
burden of its Karma ; and the gift which is given to it 
is a gift which makes it stronger now and in the future 
and which is the outpouring of the Divine Life from the 
plane where all Souls are one ; that plane is kept full 
of this spiritual energy which can help by the constant 
giving of those who have found the divine joy of pouring 
themselves out, and who know no phase of reward other 
than the seeing their brothers rising upwards to the light 
that they themselves have achieved. 

But if this be true, what means the difficult thought 
with which we are all familiar, which our aspirant most 
certainly will constantly have heard, which he feels him 
self to be facing when he enters on these probationary 
stages, and which he fancies covers all that lies on the 
other side of the gate into the Outer Court ? Why has the 
Path been called "the Path of Woe," if, as the Path is 
trodden, it becomes ever more radiant with this diviner 
joy ? Yet it is not hard to understand why that phrase 
should have been used, if you realise to whom the Path 
at first must needs seem a Path of Woe ; if you under 
stand that in this breasting of the mountain side, in this 
deliberate will to climb so rapidly, in this deliberate 
determination to outstrip the ordinary human evolution, 
one inevitable result of the effort must be the concen 
tration into a few lives of the results that would else 
have been spread over many, the coming down on the 
Soul of the Karma of the past, which now has to 
be faced and to be dealt with in so brief a time, and 



SPIRITUAL ALCHEMY. I2Q 

therefore with a tremendous added force of intensity. 
When first that falls upon the Soul, it may come 
with a bewildering force, it may come with a blinding 
energy, which makes it realise suffering as it has never 
realised it before. But even then it is not the Soul 
itself which feels the woe ; it is the lower nature, blinded 
still and ever forced onward by the higher ; even in 
that moment of bitter trial, when all that is accumulated 
in many a life behind is coming down on the Soul that 
has dared thus to challenge its destiny, even in that 
moment the Soul itself is in a place of peace, and is 
joyous that this should be done speedily which other 
wise had lasted through so many lives, and that in a 
fire which may be keen, but which yet is brief, the 
dross of the past shall be utterly purged away, and it 
shall be left free to go onward to the life which alone it 
recognises as desirable. 

Thus it is that this path, looked at from beneath, has 
been called a Path of Woe, and also because men on 
entering it give up so much that to the world appears 
as pleasure pleasures of the senses, pleasures of the 
worldly life, enjoyments of every description, which so 
many people think and feel are the very flowers along 
the pathway of life. But this Soul that is resolute to 
climb has lost its taste for them, this Soul desires them 
no longer, this Soul seeks something that does not fade, 
and joys that are not transient ; and although the Path 
may look from the outside like a Path of Renunciation, 
it is a renunciation which, on the other side, means 



130 IN THE OUTER COURT. 

added joy and peace and happiness ; for it is not the 
taking of woe for pleasure, but the throwing aside of a 
passing happiness for eternal bliss, the giving up of a 
thing which can be taken from it by outer circumstances 
for that which is the inner possession of the Soul itself, 
treasures which no robber can ever touch, joys which no 
change of earthly circumstances can dim, or mar, or cloud. 
And as the Soul goes onwards along the Path, the joy 
deepens and deepens ; for we saw at the beginning that 
sorrow had its root in ignorance. True, the bitter pain 
will often come before the knowledge, but that is because 
of the ignorance, because of the blindness. There is 
sorrow in the hearts of those who, because of the sorrow 
perhaps, give themselves to the seeking of the Path, 
when they look over the world of men and see the 
misery and the wretchedness on every side, when they 
see the suffering of men, of women, and of children 
coming back century after century, and millennium after 
millennium, when they see men suffer who know not 
why they suffer, and so have that sting of ignorance 
which is really the essence of pain. In looking over the 
world sunk in ignorance, and on men struggling amidst 
its coils, then it is that the hearts of the men who are to 
be the Saviours of mankind feel the misery of the 
world, and this inspires them to seek for it the Path of 
Liberation. But has it never struck you, looking back 
to the history of those great Ones, and catching such 
glimpses of their lives as we may from history or tradi 
tion in the world of men, has it never struck you that 



SPIRITUAL ALCHEMY. 13! 

this agony that They went through was before They saw 
the light ? That the agony was the agony of helpless 
ness, the reflection of the sorrows that They realised 
while yet They saw not the cause, of the sorrow that 
They felt while yet They knew not the curing ? And 
if you take the sorrow of that Divine Man, whom so 
many millions of our race to-day regard as highest and 
greatest, the very flower of humanity, the Buddha who 
now has for lovers one-third of the human race, do you 
remember how He sought the cause of sorrow, how He 
mourned over the ignorance and the misery of the 
world, and saw not it is said, perchance in parable, 
saw not how that sorrow might be cured ; how He 
went through suffering and pain and self-denial, how He 
renounced wife, and child, and palace, and home, and 
kingdom how He went out with only the mendicant s 
bowl alone into the jungle, far from the haunts of men ; 
and how His heart was heavy within Him, and His 
eyes were clouded ? He knew not, it is said, how to 
save the world, and yet He could not be at peace while 
the world was suffering ; He went through many a 
danger, through many a pain, through mortification of 
the body, and the denser darkness and misery of the 
mind which sought to see but could not ; and at last, 
sitting beneath the tree, there came illumination, and 
He knew the cause of sorrow; and then there came 
the time when sorrow vanished and joy took its place J 
when, in the words that have come ringing down 
through the centuries from His lips, there is the cry of 



132 IN THE OUTER COURT. 

triumph, of joy, of happiness that shall know no future 
change. You may remember the words in which an 
English poet has voiced His saying, which show how 
the ignorance was the cause of the sorrow, and how 
knowledge was the seeing, and the coming of the joy : 

I, Buddh, who wept with all my brothers tears, 
Whose heart was broken with the whole world s woe, 
Laugh and am glad, for there is liberty. 

Liberty ! but that is joy. The tears came from igno 
rance ; the tears came from blindness ; the heart was 
broken with the world s woe, as men s hearts are break 
ing now because they know not. But there is liberty. 
And the message of liberty is that the cause of sorrow 
lies in ourselves and not in the universe ; that it lies in 
our ignorance and not in the nature of things ; that it 
lies in our blindness and not in the life. Thus it is that 
when the light comes, liberty comes with it, and the joy 
and the laughter, as it is said, of the man become divine. 
For the divine light has flowed in upon His Soul, He is 
the illuminated, the wise ; and for the wise there is no 
such thing as sorrow, for the divinely illuminated Soul 
grief is dead for evermore. 



ON THE THRESHOLD. 



LECTURE V. 



2Dn tfte CbresboID, 

TO-NIGHT we stand before the Gates of Gold, those 
Gates that every man may open those Gates which, once 
passed, admit a man into that great Temple of which we 
spoke four weeks ago that Temple from which he who 
enters goeth out no more. And we are to try to-night, if 
we can, to realise something of the state of the aspirant 
who is thus approaching the threshold, who is hoping 
soon to pass into the Temple, to join the ranks of those 
who are set apart for the service of the world, for the 
helping on of the evolution of the race, for the more 
rapid progress of humanity. Looking for a moment 
over the dwellers in this Outer Court, in which we 
have spent our time during the last four lectures, 
there is one characteristic which seems to be common 
to every one who is there. They differ very much in 
their mental and in their moral qualities ; they differ 
very much in the progress that they have made ; they 



136 IN THE OUTER COURT. 

differ, as is perceptible enough as we study them, in 
the qualifications which they have already obtained, in 
their fitness to pass onwards ; but one thing they all 
seem to have in common, and that is earnestness. 
They have a definite purpose before them. Definitely 
and clearly they understand to what they are aspiring, 
they are looking on the world with an earnest purpose 
under their life ; and this, it seems to me, is perhaps 
the most salient characteristic and the one which, as I 
said, is common to them all. Those of you who are at 
all familiar with sacred literature in other lands than 
this will remember how much stress is laid on this 
quality of earnestness, of a definite purpose working 
itself out in a definite way. If you look at some of the 
ancient books belonging to the Indian faiths you will 
find that heedlessness is marked as one of the most 
dangerous of failings ; earnestness, on the other hand, 
as one of the most valuable of attainments ; it matters 
not to what religion you turn, you will find on this a 
perfect unanimity. Every one who has reached this 
stage that we are thinking of has passed beyond the 
bounds that separate one creed from another, has real 
ised that in all creeds there are the same great teach 
ings, and that all religious men are seeking the same 
great goal ; so that it is not surprising that whether 
you turn to the Scriptures that belong to one faith or 
another, inasmuch as they all come from the same 
great Brotherhood of Teachers you will find the same 
characteristics are noted as marked in the aspirant, and 



ON THE THRESHOLD. 137 

all of them speak of this quality of earnestness as one 
of the most essential for the would-be disciple. As 
clearly, perhaps, and a little more in detail than any 
where else, you will find the quality worked out 
in the second chapter of the Dhammapada. It says 
there : 

If an earnest person has roused himself, if he is not 
forgetful, if his deeds are pure, if he acts with consideration, 
if he restrains himself, and lives according to law, then his 
glory will increase. 

By rousing himself, by earnestness, by restraint and con 
trol, the wise man may make for himself an island which no 
flood can overwhelm. 

Fools follow after vanity, men of evil wisdom. The wise 
man keeps earnestness as his best jewel. 

Follow not after vanity, nor after the enjoyment of love 
and lust ! He who is earnest and meditative obtains ample 
joy. 

When the learned man drives away vanity by earnestness, 
he, the wise, climbing the terraced heights of wisdom, looks 
down upon the fools ; serene he looks upon the toiling crowd, 
as one that stands on a mountain looks down upon them that 
stand upon the plain. 

Earnest among the thoughtless, awake among the sleepers, 
the wise man advances like a racer, leaving behind the hack. 

By earnestness did Maghavan rise to the lordship of the 
Gods. People praise earnestness ; thoughtlessness is always 
blamed. 

A Bhikshu who delights in earnestness, who looks with 
fear on thoughtlessness, moves about like fire, burning all 
his fetters, small or large. 

K 



138 IN THE OUTER COURT. 

In looking back over the whole of the work that we have 
been tracing, you may see how this quality of earnest 
ness underlies the whole purification of the nature, the 
control of the thoughts, the building of the character, 
the transmutation of the lower qualities into the higher ; 
the whole of this work presupposes the earnest nature 
which has recognised its object and is definitely seeking 
its goal. 

This then, as I say, may be taken as the common 
characteristic of all who are in the Outer Court, and 
it may be worth while perhaps to note in passing, 
that this characteristic shows itself in a very salient 
way to those whose eyes are opened. You will all 
of you know that the character of a person may 
be very largely read in what is called the aura that 
surrounds him ; and some of you may remember that 
in dealing with the evolution of man, and taking 
different points in that evolution, I have sometimes 
suggested to you that in the very early days the Soul 
is a most indefinite thing ; that it might be, and that it 
has been, compared to a kind of wreath of mist with no 
definiteness of outline, with no clear limit marked. 
Now as the Soul progresses, this mist-wreath assumes 
a more and more definite form, and the aura of 
the person assumes a correspondingly more and more 
definite shape ; instead of ending vaguely, shading off 
into nothingness, it will take to itself a clear and 
definite outline, and the more the individuality is 
formed, the more definite this outline will become. If, 



ON THE THRESHOLD. 139 

then, you were looking at people in the Outer Court, 
this would be a characteristic that would be visible : 
they would be people whose auras would be well 
defined ; not only would they show very definite quali 
ties, but these would be clearly marked externally, this 
clearness of marking in the aura being the outer sign 
of the inward definiteness which the individual Soul is 
assuming. And I am saying this in order that you may 
understand and realise that this condition of the Soul 
is a thing that marks itself as it advances ; it is not a 
thing where mistake can arise. The position of the 
Soul is not one given to it by arbitrary favour from 
any one ; it is not given by any kind of chance, nor does 
it depend upon any sort of accident ; it is a clear and 
definite condition, showing qualities definitely achieved, 
powers definitely gained, and these are marked out 
clearly, so that they are visible to any observer who has 
developed within himself the powers of sight beyond those 
concerned with mere physical matter. The quality of 
earnestness, then, results in developing the individuality, 
and in thus giving this clear definiteness to the aura ; 
the definitely outlined atmosphere which surrounds the 
person may be said to be the external mark of the 
internal state which is common to all who are in the 
Outer Court ; and although this will be more clearly 
shown in some than in others, it will be characteristic 
of every one who is there. 

While the aspirants are in the Outer Court, it has 
been said, and quite truly said, in that wonderful little 



140 IN THE OUTER COURT. 

treatise, Light on the Path, that the initiations are 
those of life ; they are not the clear and definite Initia 
tions that come later, not those definite steps which 
are within the Temple, the first of which comes on 
the passing through the Golden Gates ; but they are 
constant initiations which come in the way of the 
candidate as he is going along the path of his daily 
life, so that in a very real sense life may here be said 
to be the great Initiator ; and all the ordeals through 
which the candidate is passing here in this life thus 
prove his strength and develop his faculties. And if 
you turn to that same little treatise, Light on the 
Path, you will find that certain conditions are there 
laid down which are said, in the " Comments " after 
wards published in Lucifer, to be written in every 
ante-chamber of any Lodge of a real Brotherhood. 
These rules are said to be written in every ante 
chamber, the chamber which comes before the entrance 
into the Lodge itself. And those rules are put into 
language, mystical in its character but still intelligible 
enough, although indeed, as in all mystical language, 
difficulties may arise by taking words too literally, in 
the sense of the mere words rather than as explana 
tion of the inner verities that the words are trying to 
express. And those four great truths which are written 
in the ante-chamber are, you will remember, as 
follows : 

Before the eyes can see, they must be incapable of tears. 
Before the ear can hear, it must have lost its sensitiveness. 



ON THE THRESHOLD. 14! 

Before the voice can speak in the presence of the Masters, 
it must have lost the power to wound. 

Before the soul can stand in the presence of the Masters, 
its feet must be washed in the blood of the heart. 

Now the same writer through whom Light on the 
Path itself was given was used, as you may remember, 
a little later to further explain Light on the Path by 
the writing of certain comments, and these deserve 
careful study, as they explain much of the difficulty 
that may be found by the student in the treatise itself, 
and may help him perhaps to avoid that over-literal- 
ness of which I spoke and to grasp the inner meaning 
of these four Truths, instead of being misled by the 
mere outer expression. It is said in these that the 
meaning of this first phrase, " Before the eyes can see, 
they must be incapable of tears," is that the Soul must 
pass out of the life of sensation into the life of know 
ledge, must pass behind and beyond the place where 
it is constantly shaken by these vehement vibrations 
that come to it by way of the senses, must pass out 
of that into the region of knowledge, where there is 
fixity, where there is calm, and where there is peace; 
that the eyes are the windows of the Soul, and those 
windows of the Soul may be blurred by the moisture 
of life, as it is called ; that is, by all the effects of these 
vivid sensations, whether of pleasure or of pain, causing 
a mist to be thrown upon the windows of the Soul, so 
that the Soul cannot see clearly when it looks through 
them ; a mist which comes from the outer world and 



142 IN THE OUTER COURT. 

not from within, which comes from the personality and 
not from the Soul, which is the result of mere vivid 
sensation and not of the understanding of life. It is, 
therefore, represented by the name of tears, because 
these may be taken as the symbol of violent emotion, 
whether of pain or of pleasure. Until the eyes have 
grown incapable of such tears, until the windows of the 
Soul no longer are dimmed by the moisture that can be 
thrown upon them from without, until these windows 
are clear and the light of knowledge comes through 
them, until that has been gained, it is impossible that 
the eyes of the Soul shall really see. Not, as it is 
explained, that the disciple will lose his sensitiveness, 
but that nothing that comes from without will be able 
to throw him from his balance ; not that he will cease 
either to suffer or to enjoy, for it is said that he will 
both suffer and enjoy more keenly than other men, but 
that neither the suffering nor the joy will be able to 
shake him in his purpose, will be able to shake him 
from that point of equilibrium which comes from the 
steadiness of the knowledge that he has obtained. 
This knowledge is the understanding of the permanent, 
and therefore of the incapacity of the transitory and 
the unreal to throw any definite veil over the vision of 
the Soul. 

And so with the second truth, " Before the ear can 
hear, it must have lost its sensitiveness". It must 
have reached the place of silence ; and the reason for 
this, it is said further, is that though the voice of the 



ON THE THRESHOLD. 143 

Masters be always sounding in the world, men s ears 
do not hear the voice while they are rilled with the 
sounds of the outer life ; it is not that the Master does 
not speak, for He is speaking ever ; it is not that the 
voice does not sound forth, for it is ever sounding ; it 
is only that the sounds that are immediately around 
the disciple are so loud, that this sweeter and softer 
harmony is unable to penetrate to the ear through 
the grosser sounds that come by the senses and the 
lower emotions. Therefore it is necessary that silence 
for a time shall come ; therefore it is necessary that 
while still in the Outer Court the disciple shall reach 
a place of silence in order that the true sound may 
be heard ; therefore it is that this place of silence which 
he reaches must for a time give almost the feeling of 
want of sensitiveness, from the very quiet that is there, 
from the unbroken stillness of which the Soul is con 
scious. 

And here this same writer speaks, and speaks very 
strongly, of the difficulty and the struggle which come 
when first the silence is felt. Accustomed as we are 
to all the sounds around us, when silence for a moment 
falls upon the Soul it comes with a sense of nothing 
ness ; it is like entering into an abyss in which there 
is no footing, passing into a darkness which seems 
like a pall which has fallen on the Soul a sense of 
absolute loneliness, of absolute vacuity, a feeling as 
though everything had given way, as though all life 
had vanished with the cessation of the sounds of living 



144 IN THE OUTER COURT. 

things. So that it is said that though the Master Him 
self be there, and be holding the hand of the disciple, 
the disciple feels as though his hand were empty ; that 
he has lost sight of the Master and of all that have 
gone before him, and seems to himself as though poised 
alone in space, with nothing above or below, or on 
either hand. And in that moment of silence there 
seems to be a pause in the life ; in that moment of 
silence everything seems to have stopped, even though 
it were the very life of the Soul itself. And it is across 
that silence that the voice sounds from the other side, 
the voice which once heard in the silence is heard for 
evermore amidst all sounds; for once heard, the ear 
will respond to it for evermore, and there are no sounds 
that earth can make thereafter which will be able, even 
for a moment, to dull the harmony that thus has once 
spoken to the Soul. And these two Truths, it is said, 
must be felt, must be experienced, before the real 
Golden Gate can be touched : these two Truths must 
be realised by the aspirant, before he can stand on the 
threshold and there await permission to enter within the 
Temple itself. 

The other two Truths seem, from the description that 
is given of them, to belong rather to the life that is 
within the Temple than to that without it, although 
indeed they be written in the ante-chamber ; for much 
is written in that ante-chamber which is to be worked 
out on the other side, written for the guidance of the 
aspirant, that he may know the line along which he is to 



ON THE THRESHOLD. 145 

travel, that he may begin the preparation for the work 
that lies within the Temple itself. For it would seem 
from the description as though these other two great 
Truths as to the power of speaking in the presence of 
the Masters, and standing upright before Them face 
to face are only realised, in their fulness at least, 
upon the other side, even though an attempt may 
be made in the Outer Court to begin to make them 
flower in the Soul. And the first germs, as it were, may 
begin to show on the hither side of the Golden Gate ; 
for this power of speaking in the presence of the Master 
is said to be the appeal to the great Power that is at the 
head of the Ray to which the aspirant belongs ; that it 
echoes upwards, and then echoes downwards again to 
the disciple, and from him outward into the world ; that 
it consists in his appeal for knowledge, and the answer 
to the appeal for knowledge is the giving to him of the 
power to speak the knowledge that he receives. And 
the only condition which permits him to speak in Their 
presence, is that he shall also speak to others of the 
knowledge that he has gained, and become himself a 
link in that great chain which joins the Highest to the 
lowest, handing on to those who stand not where now 
he stands, the knowledge which, in that place of his 
standing, he is able to receive. And so it is that it is 
said that if he demand to become a neophyte, he must 
at once become a servant, for he may not receive unless 
he be willing to impart. This power of speech not 
power of outer speech which belongs rather to the lower 



146 IN THE OUTER COURT. 

planes, but that power of true speech which speaks 
from Soul to Soul, and tells the way to those who are 
seeking it, not by merely outer words, but by conveying 
to them the truth that the words so imperfectly express 
that power of speech from Soul to Soul is given to the 
neophyte only as he desires to use it for service, as he 
desires to become one of the tongues of living fire which 
move amongst the world of men, and tell them of the 
secret which they are seeking. 

Then comes that last Truth that none may stand in the 
Masters presence save those whose feet are washed in 
the blood of the heart. That is explained to mean that 
just as the tears stand for that moisture of life which 
comes from vivid sensation, so does the blood of the 
heart stand for the very life itself; that when the blood 
of the heart is spoken of, in which the feet of the 
disciple are washed, it means that he no longer claims 
his life for himself, but is willing to pour it out so that 
all the world may share. And inasmuch as the life is 
the most precious thing a man has, that it is which he is 
said to give ere he may stand in the presence of Those 
who have given all ; no longer has he a desire of life for 
himself, no longer seeks he birth for that which he may 
gain therein, or that which he may experience ; he has 
washed his feet in the blood of the heart, he has given 
up the desire for life for himself, and he holds it for 
the good of the race, for the serving of humanity ; only 
when thus he gives all that is his may he stand in Their 
presence who have given all. You see then why it is 



ON THE THRESHOLD. 147 

that I say that those two last Truths seem to apply 
rather within the Temple than without it ; for that 
absolute sacrifice of all life, that breaking free from all 
desire, that having nothing save for the sake of giving, 
that is in its last perfection the achievement of the very 
highest of those who stand on the threshold of Adept- 
ship ; that is one of the last triumphs of the Arhat, who 
stands just beneath that point where all knowledge is 
achieved, and there is naught more to learn, naught 
more to gain. But still the knowledge that such is the 
truth which is to become a living reality, is a help in 
the guiding of the life, and therefore I presume it is 
written in the ante-chamber, although there be none in 
that ante-chamber who may hope perfectly to attain 
to it. 

Taking then these stages which lead us to the thresh 
old, we begin to realise something of what they will be 
who are ready to stand at the Gate, ready to cross the 
threshold ; still with much of imperfection, still with 
much that remains to do, still with lives in front of them 
in "which much is to be achieved, still with four great 
stages to be passed through ere yet they reach the lofty 
position of the Adept. We see that they are people of 
definite purpose, of definite character, of purified lives, 
of extinguished or extinguishing passions, of self-con 
trolled character, of longing desire for service, of 
aspirations towards purity, of the highest nobility of 
life. Dare we for a moment stand on the threshold 
itself, glancing forward, if only for a moment, in order 



148 IN THE OUTER COURT. 

that we may realise still more clearly what lies in front, 
and so understand also more clearly why such condi 
tions are made, and why in the Outer Court the 
aspirant must practise the lessons we have been study 
ing ? Just for a moment let our eyes rest, though they 
can rest but imperfectly, on the four Paths, or the four 
stages of the one Path, that lie within the Temple, 
each with its own Portal, and each Portal one of the 
great Initiations. The first, that which you will find 
so often described as the Initiation which is taken by 
him who " enters on the stream " that you read of 
in The Voice of the Silence and elsewhere in many exo 
teric books which marks as it were a passage, a step 
definite and clear, which makes the passage over the 
threshold into the Temple, from which, as I was quot 
ing just now, no one who has once entered ever again 
goes forth, returning backwards into*, the world. He 
goes not forth, for he is ever in the Temple even when 
he is serving in the world itself. 

That entering of the stream, then, is a definite step, and 
you will sometimes see it said in the exoteric books that 
there may be seven lives, and often ae seven lives, 
that lie in front of the candidate who thus has entered 
the stream. In a note of The Voice of the Silence it is 
said that it is very very rarely that a Chela entering the 
stream reaches the goal in the same life-, and generally 
there are seven lives that stretch in front of him, 
through which he must pass ere the last-step be taken. 
But it may be as well to remember perhaps, in reading 



ON THE THRESHOLD. 149 

all these books, that these phrases must not be taken 
too definitely ; for the lives are effects, and these lives 
are not measured always by mortal births and mortal 
deaths ; they are stages of progress perhaps, more 
often than human lives, but still they are sometimes 
measured between cradle and grave, although not 
necessarily. And these are said to be passed, life after 
life, without break ; passing from one to another, pass 
ing onwards constantly without break in self-conscious 
ness. And then beyond that first is another Portal, 
another Initiation ; and as these lives are lived, certain 
last weaknesses of human nature are cast off one by 
one, cast off for ever, cast off completely; no longer 
now the incomplete labours of the Outer Court, no 
longer now the unfinished efforts, the unaccomplished 
endeavours. Here each work that is undertaken is 
perfectly achieved, each task that is begun is perfectly 
finished, and we see that in each of these stages certain 
definite fetters, as they are called, are cast aside, cer 
tain definite weaknesses for ever gotten rid of, as the 
disciple advances onwards to perfection, onwards to the 
full manifestation of the Divine in man. 

Of the second Initiation it is said that he who passes 
it shall receive birth but once more. Only once more 
must he necessarily return, ere his compulsory rounds 
of births and deaths are over. Many times he may 
return to voluntary reincarnation, but that will be of 
his own free will in service, and not by the binding 
to the wheel of births and deaths. And as he passes 



150 IN THE OUTER COURT. 

through that stage and reaches the third Portal, the 
third great Initiation, he becomes the one who receives 
birth no more ; for in that very birth he shall pass 
through the fourth stage which takes him to the thresh 
old of Nirvana, and there can be no law that binds 
the Soul, for every fetter is broken and the Soul is free ; 
the fourth stage is that of the Arhat, where the last 
remaining fetters are utterly thrown aside. 

Can we trace in any fashion at all these last stages, 
these four steps of Initiation ? Can we realise, however 
dimly, what the work is which makes the passing of 
these four Gateways possible, and which makes the 
changed life on the other side ? We have seen that the 
candidate is by no means perfect. We see, in these 
published books that are lit by gleams from within the 
Temple, that still there are ten fetters of human weak 
ness that one by one are to be cast off. I do not now 
take them in detail, explaining each, for that would 
carry us too much within the Temple itself, and my 
work here is only in the Outer Court ; but, as you know, 
they may be stated, and I believe are likely before very 
long to be traced for you here one by one by a com 
petent hand. Let us then, without going into detail, 
take them simply as guides for the moment, and ask 
ourselves how it is that the demands are so rigid before 
the threshold is crossed ; why is it that so much has 
to be done before this entrance into the Temple is 
permitted, before Those who hold the key of the Gate 
will throw it open when the aspirant stands thereat for 



ON THE THRESHOLD. 15! 

admission ? It is easy, I think, to see that the conditions 
we have already studied must be partly fulfilled ere the 
aspirant can cross the threshold. Every step that he 
takes on the other side is a step that places greater and 
greater powers within his grasp. On the other side 
within the Temple his eyes will be open ; on the other 
side within the Temple he will be able to do and live 
in a way that on the hither side is impossible. The 
seeing, and the hearing, and the doing, will make him 
a man very different from the men around him, holding 
powers that they do not share, having vision that is not 
theirs, knowledge in which they have no part ; he is to 
move amongst them, but yet be partly not of them, 
different from them while yet sharing in their common 
life. But if that be so, it is needful to demand from 
him that he shall truly be somewhat different from them 
ere these powers shall be placed within his grasp; for 
once possessed, he holds them and can use them. 
Suppose, then, that he had the weaknesses so common 
in the outer world, suppose that he was easily irritated 
by the faults of those around him, suppose that he was 
easily thrown off his balance by the common events of 
daily life, suppose that his temper was not well under 
control, that his compassion was not growing, that his 
sympathy was not wide and deep, that when another 
injured him he felt anger instead of compassion, and 
irritation instead of forgiveness, suppose that he had 
little toleration and small patience, what would be the 
result of admitting such a man beyond the threshold, 



152 IN THE OUTER COURT. 

and allowing these powers which are superhuman, if 
you take the ordinary man as type, to pass at all, how 
ever imperfectly, within his grasp ? Would there not 
be the danger, nay, the certainty, that these small faults 
so common in men and women in the world would bring 
about results of the nature of catastrophes ; that if he 
were angry these fresh powers of the Soul he has gained 
the strength of his will, the power of his thought 
would make him a source of danger to his fellow-men 
as these forces were flung out and affected others ? 
Supposing he were not tolerant, supposing he had not 
learnt to sympathise and to feel, to know the weaknesses 
he had conquered, and to understand the easiness of 
failure : what, then, would be his position among men 
when he was able to see their thoughts, when he was able 
to understand and read their failings, and when those 
characters which we veil from each other beneath the 
outer appearance were no longer veiled to him, but stood 
out clearly and definitely expressed (in that very aura 
that I spoke of, which surrounds each personality), so 
that he ever saw what people were instead of what 
they appeared to be in the outer world ? Surely it would 
not be right, nor just, nor well that such a power and 
it is one of the lowest on the Path should be placed in 
the hands of any one who has not learnt by his own 
struggles to sympathise with the weakest, and by the 
remembrance of his own faults to give help and com 
passion, instead of condemnation, to the weakest of his 
brethren whom he may meet with in his daily life. 



ON THE THRESHOLD. 153 

Right is it and just then that the demand should be 
rigid ere the aspirant be permitted to step across the 
threshold ; fair and right is it that the demand should 
be made upon him, and that he should be able to comply 
with it; that there should be comparatively little left, 
at least of these ordinary faults of men, ere he steps 
within that mighty Temple where there is room only 
for the helpers and the servants and the lovers of man 
kind. And the task that he has to do is also so gigantic 
a task, that it seems necessary that he shall have made 
fair progress ere he puts his hand to it at all : to get 
rid of every trace of human weakness, to gain all know 
ledge that can be gained within the limits of our system, 
to develop the powers which place all that knowledge 
within reach at will, so that by merely turning the 
attention anywhere everything that there can be known 
passes within the knowledge of the observer. For that 
and nothing less than that, remember, is the position of 
the Adept. The Adept is the " one who has no more to 
learn " ; and Adeptship is but the last step on this Path 
that we are considering, which lies within the Temple, and 
which has to be trodden in so brief a space of time a 
task so gigantic, an achievement so sublime, that were it 
not that men have done it, and are doing it, it would 
seem beyond possibility at all. For what would be this 
short span of lives from the ordinary standpoint for the 
making of such progress from the comparatively low stage 
which marks the first Initiation to that sublime height 
where the perfected Adepts are standing, the very flower 



154 IN THE OUTER COURT. 

and perfection of the evolution of Humanity ? And since 
nothing less than that is the task which lies within the 
Temple, since nothing less than that achievement has 
to be accomplished, since not the slightest trace of human 
weakness nor of human ignorance must cling to the 
Arhat who is ready for the final Initiation, no wonder 
that before the threshold is crossed there is much for 
men to do, no wonder that the foundation that we have 
spoken of, which is to support the weight of so mighty 
a building and on which so vast a superstructure is to 
be reared, must be made strong and firm. And remem 
ber, when the eyes are opened the greatness of the task 
seems more than in the days when the eyes were closed ; 
that to him who has begun to tread the Path, the Path 
must seem far higher and longer than it can look to 
those whose eyes are dim on the hither side of the 
Gate; for he must see more clearly Those who are 
beyond, and measure more accurately the distance that 
separates him from Them. And in the light of that per 
fect glory, how dull must seem his own achievement ; how 
poor and weak everything he can do, in the light of Their 
perfect strength ; how almost measureless his ignorance 
in the light of Their perfect knowledge ; and only four 
steps upon the Path, only such brief tale of lives in 
which that Path must be accomplished ! But the con 
ditions will be so different ; and there must lie, one 
would think, the possibility of the achievement ; there 
lies the strength perhaps of the feeling that the men 
who have done it, and are doing it, passed in crossing 



ON THE THRESHOLD. 155 

the threshold into a state of life so different from that 
they left behind, that that which would seem impossible 
here becomes to them possible there, and that which 
seemed so difficult becomes comparatively easy. For 
although we may not wholly realise all the conditions 
on the other side, there are some that it seems possible 
to think of, that show how different the life is within 
the Temple from that which lies without. For first of all 
in this change of conditions, there is the fact that the 
men who are there understand and much lies in that 
word " understand ". You remember those words that 
I just stopped short of intentionally, last week, in 
quoting the cry of triumph which came from the lips of 
the BUDDHA, when He proclaimed the end of bondage 
and the finding of liberty ; how that cry to those who 
are in the outer world, telling them the cause of sorrow, 
spoke also of the ceasing of sorrow, and that that lay in 
the understanding of the reality. 

Ho 1 ye who suffer ! know 

Ye suffer from yourselves. None else compels, 

None other holds you that ye live and die. 

And the man who has crossed the threshold knows 
that to be very truth. Men suffer from themselves ; 
they are not bound ; and in understanding that, the 
whole world must change to his vision, and all the diffi 
culties of the Path will also change their aspect. For 
once that we understand, once that we realise, that all 
these troubles and difficulties in the world grow from 



156 IN THE OUTER COURT. 

the world s ignorance, that men suffer because they do 
not know that they pass from life to life, and that they 
grow so little because they do not know; that they 
make so little of life because they do not know; that 
they gain so little in each life because they do not know ; 
that all this wheel of births and deaths on which they 
are bound holds them bound to it by their want of know 
ledge, by their not realising that they are really free if 
only they could understand ; when once the under 
standing comes, however weakly, when once the under 
standing comes, not indeed with the vision of the En 
lightened One, but still with full conviction, then the whole 
world changes its aspect to this man who has crossed the 
threshold, and looking back over the world with all its 
sorrows and its miseries, with all its streaming eyes and 
breaking hearts, he knows that there is an end to sorrow, 
and that with the ceasing of ignorance shall come the end 
of pain. And thus the heartbreak of it is removed ; though 
still the sorrow may not be utterly outgrown, that which 
made it despair and hopelessness has passed away from 
his Soul for evermore. And that is not the only change 
of condition that which gives not hope but certainty, 
not hope of the dawn but the rising sun, and the 
certainty of the coming day ; that is not the only change 
of condition which lies on the other side of the threshold. 
One of the vast gains that he will have obtained in 
crossing over that threshold will be the gaining of a 
consciousness which shall not again be broken, over 
which death shall not have power, over which birth can 



ON THE THRESHOLD. 157 

no longer draw the sponge of oblivion. His conscious 
ness for the lives that lie in front is to be consciousness 
continuous and unbroken, self-consciousness gained not 
again to be lost, self-consciousness achieved not again 
to be clouded ; lost in truth it never can wholly be, when 
once it has begun in man ; but it does not translate 
itself into the lower consciousness in the lives that lie 
on the worldly side of the Temple. In the lives that 
lie on the further side, within the Temple, the self- 
consciousness is an unbroken knowledge, so that that 
Soul can look before and after and feel itself strong in 
the knowledge of the immortal Self. And see how that 
will change all life ; for what are two of the great sorrows 
of life which come to men, and which men cannot escape ? 
Two of the worst sorrows that all have felt, and that 
all still feel, are those of separation and of death 
separation which is made by space, when hundreds or 
thousands of miles may separate friend from friend, 
separation which is made by the change of condition 
when the veil of death has fallen between the Soul in 
the body and the Soul on the other side. But separa 
tion and death exist not for him who has crossed the 
threshold, as they existed for him while he was still in 
the outer world. To some extent he may feel them, to 
some extent being still with the fetter of ignorance at 
least partially upon him he may feel some pang of 
separation whether by distance or by death ; but it 
cannot really cloud his life, it cannot really break his 
consciousness ; it is only while he is in the body that the 



158 IN THE OUTER COURT. 

separation exists for him, and he may be out of the body 
at will, and go where space and time can no longer hold 
him. So that right out of his life are struck for all 
future lives these two of the great sufferings upon earth. 
No friend can again be lost to him, no death can again 
take from his side those who are knit to him in the bond 
of life. For to him neither separation nor death has a 
real existence ; those are evils of the past, and in their 
most terrible forms they are finished with for evermore. 

Nor is that all of this enormous change of conditions 
in the life of the disciple. Not only has he this un 
broken consciousness which makes it impossible that 
any can be utterly divided from him, but he knows that 
it also means that in these lives in front of him he will 
not slip back and feel as he has felt in the lives behind ; 
not again shall he come into the world unconscious, to 
waste perhaps half a life by not knowing what he seeks ; 
not again shall he come into the world ignorant of all, for 
the time blinded by the matter that veils him, and know 
ing not the true purpose of his life ; he will return again 
indeed, but return with knowledge ; return again indeed, 
but return for progress ; and it will be his own fault now 
if the progress be slackened, if he press not onwards. 
He has gained the consciousness that makes the pro 
gress possible, and any standing still or slackening will 
be his own fault, and in no sense a necessity of his life. 

And then again his conditions will be changed by the 
new companionship into which he enters, companion 
ship where there are no clouds, where no doubts and no 



ON THE THRESHOLD. 159 

suspicions can arise, companionship above all the mists 
of earth, where they have no place and cannot again 
disturb the Soul. For in crossing into the Temple he 
has come within sight of the great Teachers, in crossing 
the threshold he has come within the vision of the 
Masters, and in the possibility of the touch of such lofty 
companionship, all life to him for evermore is changed. 
He will have touched the permanent, and the transitory 
cannot again shake him as in the days when he knew 
not the Eternal. His feet are for evermore upon the 
rock, and the waves will not be able to wash him away 
from it, and give him again the trouble of swimming in 
the tossing sea. So that on this other side, mighty as 
is the task, the conditions are so different that the task 
seems less impossible, and we begin to understand why 
it has been achieved in the past, and why it is being 
achieved in the present; we begin to realise that with 
such changes, such a Path, great as it is, may still be 
trodden ; and that these steps up the mountain side, 
though they seem to raise the Soul so high, and do raise 
it to heights so lofty, that these steps may be taken with 
comparative swiftness under conditions so different, and 
that the evolution may well be rapid beyond almost all 
dreaming where the powers of the Soul are thus unfold 
ing, and the darkness has lifted, and the light is seen. 
And these stages that are to be trodden under these 
conditions, these steps that are yet to be taken, and 
these fetters that are still to be cast off as we look at 
them we see that one after another the last phases of 



l6o IN THE OUTER COURT. 

human weakness are disappearing, and the Soul shines 
out strong and calm and pure. The delusion of the 
lower self is falling away, and all men are seen as one 
with the true Self. Doubt is vanishing, for it is replaced 
by knowledge ; and as the Soul learns the reality of 
things, doubt becomes impossible for evermore. And 
all dependence on the outer that is transitory, that too 
will slip from off the Soul ; for in this vivid contact 
with realities, all the outer things must take their due 
proportion, and it will learn how the outer matters 
but little, and how all the things which divide men 
are mere shadows, and not realities at all ; that all 
differences of religions, and all efficacy of one cere 
mony more than another, nay, all exoteric rites and 
ceremonies, belong to the lower world, so that they are 
only illusive walls set up between the Souls of men ; 
and these shadowy fetters will slip from the Soul that 
is learning, and these traces of human weakness will 
pass away. And the powers of the Soul will be 
unfolding, vision and hearing, the gaining of know 
ledge as yet undreamed of, flowing in from every 
side, and the whole Soul receptive ; no longer limited 
by the senses as here below, no longer nearly all 
the Universe shut off, and only a small fragment of 
it here and there finding its way as knowledge to the 
Soul ; but knowledge flowing in from every side and the 
whole surface of the Soul receptive to take it in ; so 
that the gaining of the knowledge seems as it were 
a process of continually increasing life, and it comes 



ON THE THRESHOLD. l6l 

constantly flowing into the Soul which has opened out 
to receive it from every side. And then still further on 
we faintly see that the Soul is getting rid of those 
etherealised shadows of desire that still seem to cling to 
it, the last touches as it were of the earthly life which 
might have power to retain. But as we reach the last 
of the Initiations, that stands before the highest, that 
which makes the man an Arhat, we find that it is all but 
impossible to understand at all, impossible to realise, 
what fetters there can be, what blemishes in a state so 
exalted ; and truly it is written that the path of the 
Arhat "is difficult to understand, like that of birds in 
the air"; for like them he seems to leave no foot 
prints, he seems to wing his way untouched, un 
fettered, in that high atmosphere wherein he moves ; and 
from that region there comes down a sense of peace 
unshaken that nothing may disturb. For we are told 
that nothing can move him, nothing can shake him, that 
he stands there unassailable by any storm of earth, in. a 
peace which nothing may avail to ruffle, in a serenity 
which nothing may avail to mar. Those who know the 
state have written of it, and in words which needs must be 
weak since they are human words, have said something 
of the characteristics of one like that in syllables that 
seem faintly to image out that lofty condition ; for they 
say that he is : 

Tolerant like the earth, like Indra s bolt ; he is like a lake 
without mud ; no new births are in store for him. His 
thought is quiet, quiet are his word and deed, when he has 



l62 IN THE OUTER COURT. 

obtained freedom by true knowledge, when he has thus be 
come a quiet man. 

And it seems as though from that quiet there came 
down to us a sense of peace, of serenity, of unruffled 
calm, of that which naught may change or mar ; and 
we understand why of such one it should be written, 
that : 

There is no suffering for him who has finished his journey, 
and abandoned grief, who has freed himself on all sides, 
and thrown off all fetters. 

Such is the Arhat who stands at the summit of the 
Path ; such the one who has but one step more to take, 
and then shall have nothing more to learn ; such the 
goal and the Path which all may tread ; such the ending 
of the struggle, and the ending is perfect peace.* 

In tracing the steps of the preliminary Path, in 
speaking in words all imperfect of what lies on the other 
side the Golden Gate, have I seemed sometimes to speak 
too hardly, have I seemed to paint the Path with colours 
too dark, too gloomy ? If it be so, then the fault is 
mine, and not the fault of the Path ; if it be so, then 
the error is in the speaker, and not in that which feebly 
she has striven to describe. For though there be diffi 
culty and struggle and suffering, it is true for all those 
who enter the Outer Court, to say nothing of those who 
have passed beyond the Golden Gate, that when once 
they have entered within that Court, they would not for 

* The quotations are from the Dhammapada, chap, vii., " The 
Arhat". 



ON THE THRESHOLD. 163 

aught that earth can give them tread backwards to 
where they were before ; and for those who have passed 
across the threshold, is there aught that earth could 
give of joy or promise, that would make them even glance 
backwards at the world they have left behind ? For 
this Path which stretches onward before us is a Path of 
which the pains are better than earth s joys, and the 
sufferings more glorious than earth s fruitions. If you 
could press within the span of a human life every joy 
that the lower earth could give ; if you could crowd it 
with pleasure, and with the giving of the pleasure could 
give also the power to enjoy without ceasing ; if into 
that span of human life you could bring all that men 
know of the joys of the senses, nay, even what they know 
of the joys of the intellect ; if you could make it with no 
touch of pain or of weariness ; if you could make it an 
ideal life so far as earth can make ideal ; then beside 
the steps on the Path no matter what those steps may 
seem from the outer world that life of earth s joys 
would be sordid and dull in its colouring, and its har 
monies would be discords beside the harmonies that 
lie beyond. For on this Path each step that is taken 
is a step that is taken for ever; each pain that is 
suffered on it is a pain which, if it is felt, is welcome 
because of the lesson that it gives. And in treading 
this Path it grows brighter as ignorance lessens, it 
grows more peaceful as weakness vanishes, it grows 
serener as the vibrations of earth have less power to 
jar and to disturb. What it is in its ending, Those 



164 IN THE OUTER COURT. 

only can tell who have ended ; what it is at its goal, 
Those only may know who stand there. But even 
those who are treading its earlier stages know that its 
sorrow is joy as compared with the joy of earth, and 
the very smallest of its flowers is worth every jewel that 
earth could give. One gleam of the Light which shines 
always upon it and that grows ever brighter as the 
disciple treads onwards, one gleam of that makes all 
earth s sunshine but as darkness ; they who tread it 
know the peace that passeth understanding, the joy that 
earthly sorrow can never take away, the rest that is on 
the rock that no earthquake may shiver, the place within 
the Temple where for ever there is bliss. 



ABERDEEN UNIVERSITY PRESS. 



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BP Besant, Annie Wood 

In the outer court 
158 

1898 



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